Friday, May 29, 2015

Van Build: Propane and Essentials

A lot of research and thinking was going on about this time. All the decisions from here on out had to be made, measured and mapped. I had been familiar with different configurations, but never really considered anything other than a Volkswagen layout, since I was already intimately familiar with it. It so happens that layout has been proven and adopted by SMB in their RB50 layout. There were two major decisions that had to be made first. What bed and refrigerator? Other considerations were propane and Solar, water holding and furnace. After looking in the wrecking yards and considering fabricating a fold down bed, I decided to order a 'Princess' manual fold down bed from Discount truck and van: [url][/url]. After much deliberation, and discussion, I decided to go with a 3-way Dometic refrigerator RM2354:[url][/url] It's not the most popular with SMBs, but I decided that a solar array was expensive and I was wary of installing them on the pop top for cosmetic, and functionality reasons. It might be just too heavy to lift the top, and as it was my Girlfriend could barely lift it. That means we're going all propane, which in my experience was extremely efficient. It's kind of old school, but has been a proven platform for decades. We're more of a cook top cookers than microwave cookers at home anyway. The LP fridge will allow us to boondock longer without having to worry about the house batteries dying in the first eight hours. With the fridge and bed ordered, I could now take measurements and begin to to draft a design for the cabinets. In the weeks that followed I started working on the infrastructure. I had ordered this 5.5 gal 'Van' mount Manchester tank [url][/url] and this access door from Sportsmobile [url][/url].
From my research this is the combination that they install on their vans. After taking tons of measurements I realized there was pretty much one place that the tank and door could fit. The same place SMB installs them. I drilled through the plywood and floor to install the brackets. I used large carriage bolts and nylon lock nuts. I could set the tank up there but without the hole in the side of the van couldn't be sure how well it fit. Time to cut a hole. I used some cardboard to create a template then cut a huge hole with a Jig saw and die cutter in the inner panel. I painted the access door black, and installed that and the tank. I used a thin layer of butyl tape to seal the door frame to the body. Some corrosion protection on the bare metal edges was necessary, plus some additional seam sealer at the bottom sill to further prevent rust. While I was at it I cut the hole for the lower vent for the fridge, and installed it the same way.
Phew, it all fits. A nail biter for sure. As you can also see I ordered some Bushwackers from SMB at the same time as the access door. I really couldn't find them anywhere any cheaper. Up next: House Batteries and wiring

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