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What do you wish you had known before you started renovating your dirtbag van?

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David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145

I had to add this text in order to submit this topic.

The Bread · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2019 · Points: 0

That credit cards aren't "free money"....

master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 262

THat if your renovate your van it is no longer a "dirtbag" van and instead a land yacht.

Dirty30 Dirty30 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0

That I should have done this in college instead of pay rent for 4 years....

Anthony L · · Central Washington · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

That living in a van actually kinda sucks if you want to climb in the alpine, ski, kayak, and mountain bike. If rock climbing is your only goal, then it's kinda tight but I'd still rather live in a mountain town.

Dan Cooksey · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

Shitting in a bucket is the.....shit.

Plan ahead for every inch of your build.   I was constantly coming up long or short and having to remove things.

I’m reality, just pay a professional 

David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145
Anthony L wrote: That living in a van actually kinda sucks if you want to climb in the alpine, ski, kayak, and mountain bike. If rock climbing is your only goal, then it's kinda tight but I'd still rather live in a mountain town.

None of the above, so I guess I'm making the right choice!

erik wellborn · · manitou springs · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 355

That a Toyota Tacoma with a topper is way cheaper and more reliable. Now excuse me, I gotta go replace/rebuild the propane heater in my van

Joe Auer · · Castle Valley, UT · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 375

Cut an "access hatch" in the floor so you can replace the fuel pump without dropping the tank. Only needs to be about a foot square in size.

Richard R · · DC · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

A lesson from a cheapo tacoma buildout, but still maybe applicable: if water gets in inaccessible places that never see the light of day, good chance you end up with a moldy/mildewy mess down the road. So either do a perfect job on your waterproofing, or make sure you can access all the nooks and crannies of your build in a pinch. I guess the general lesson is to design something that you can clean and dry out as easily as possible. The second time around with our truck bed, we went way simpler on everything (e.g. no nifty cabinets) but made it so even if everything gets wet inside, we can pull it all out on a sunny day and let it dry.

Also a thought is to test out your general configuration quickly and cheaply (plywood, cardboard, etc) on a trip or two before you commit to doing everything nicely. Better not to end up with a beautifully built setup that doesn't actually work that well to live in. And think about the most important functions your living space has to perform... e.g. do you need a box to sleep in, a comfy work/reading space, a spot to cook when it rains, etc.? Something that meets your needs simply may be better for DIY than something cool but complicated.

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,482
The Bread wrote: That credit cards aren't "free money"....

Give it seven years.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

wish I knew a bit more about solar chargers but its easy enough to upgrade that.   I have the renogy wanderer and it only has idiot lights. Will eventually have   the next model up with digital readout.  finding the right source for windows is key.  some things you just have to learn the hard way if you have never built in that model van.  I had to move  my whole electrical panel because as my build progressed it did not work in the first place I had put it..  biggest regret @ the moment is going with a 60l chest style fridge. Its a huge footprint and has to be on a slider but then it takes up even more space when it slides out.  the  60l chest fridge cost $465.00 and a  cabnit style fridge of simeler size 2.2cu ft?? would have been around $700.00 wish I had sprung the extra money for the cabinet style truck fridge...   Not finished but can see the finish line ;)

H Lue · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 10

Do not attempt to live in your van while renovating it.. Our productivity TANKED. 

Dan Cooksey · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365
Nick Goldsmith wrote: wish I knew a bit more about solar chargers but its easy enough to upgrade that.   I have the renogy wanderer and it only has idiot lights. Will eventually have   the next model up with digital readout.  finding the right source for windows is key.  some things you just have to learn the hard way if you have never built in that model van.  I had to move  my whole electrical panel because as my build progressed it did not work in the first place I had put it..  biggest regret @ the moment is going with a 60l chest style fridge. Its a huge footprint and has to be on a slider but then it takes up even more space when it slides out.  the  60l chest fridge cost $465.00 and a  cabnit style fridge of simeler size 2.2cu ft?? would have been around $700.00 wish I had sprung the extra money for the cabinet style truck fridge...   Not finished but can see the finish line ;)

MICTUNING DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Digital Display Ammeter Voltmeter Multimeter Volt Watt Power Energy Meter Blue with 100A 75mV Shunt amazon.com/dp/B01JOUZELG/re…

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

right now I use my regular auto multi meter to test voltage but I would like the charge controller to actually tell me what phase of charging it is in rather than rely on the idiot lights and  multi meter. 

Dan Cooksey · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365
Nick Goldsmith wrote: right now I use my regular auto multi meter to test voltage but I would like the charge controller to actually tell me what phase of charging it is in rather than rely on the idiot lights and  multi meter. 

Just trying to offer a cheap work around.   Using this meter has been all I’ve ever had and it’s never failed me. 

The Raven · · SoCo · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
Joe Auer wrote: Cut an "access hatch" in the floor so you can replace the fuel pump without dropping the tank. Only needs to be about a foot square in size.

So true. I had to drop the tank once in a truck. Sucked. 

David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145
Joe Auer wrote: Cut an "access hatch" in the floor so you can replace the fuel pump without dropping the tank. Only needs to be about a foot square in size.

Do you have more info about this? Or links?

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

dan, your link did not work. I do have a $20.00 battery monitor from amazon but have not installed it yet.  looks a little involved figuring out the wireing diagram... also its flush mount instead of surface mount . Cutting a hole for this rather cheap looking  thing is Not going to happen so I need to sus that out as well.

Jay J · · Euelss · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 5

Spend a little extra on the flooring.  The cheapest vinyl at Home Depot doesn't hold up very well.  I should have gone with proper linonlium or those cafeteria tiles.  

Also, the really cheap Sprinter parts on eBay are pretty terrible.  

A dually is better suited for building out.  Get one of those if you can afford it and the more expensive tires such a vehicle uses.  

You can't snake wires inside the B pillars of a t1n Sprinter.  We'll, not big ones anyways.  

Installing Windows is easy.  Trimming out around them, not so much.

Dan Cooksey · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365
Nick Goldsmith wrote: dan, your link did not work. I do have a $20.00 battery monitor from amazon but have not installed it yet.  looks a little involved figuring out the wireing diagram... also its flush mount instead of surface mount . Cutting a hole for this rather cheap looking  thing is Not going to happen so I need to sus that out as well.

If I have a moment today I’ll shoot you a photo of my meter and the wiring.  It’s very straightforward, and I literally have mine sitting on top of my charge controller. 

I’ll send a cheat sheet you can use as a guide for determining how full your battery is based of the reading.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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