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"Humble Beginnings"
Short and sweet: my girlfriend and I bought a van a couple months ago (2004 E350 Ext). We threw together a floor and a bed in four days so we could take her out for Memorial Day, but the build has been a bit stalled since. We've been doing a lot of talking and planning, and the time has finally come to get back to work. 

I'll be using this thread to document the progress, and hopefully engage in some constructive discussion about our choices along the way! In the next two months this should be a fully converted van, with hopes and dreams that we will take to the plunge to live in it full time in the next year or two.

Okay, enough intro! Here is the current state of our van, all loaded up for a 2,100 mile trip to see the eclipse in Oregon last weekend:

You can see that we've had a bit of a start, but our van is still very humble and raw. I was working on running some electrical (backup cam and a switch for the reverse siren) before our trip to the eclipse, but we ran out of time and had to get on the road (which explains the wires hanging down from the ceiling). 

Back in May we had to build the bed fast, before taking the time to insulate the walls. Now it's time to go back and do it all correctly. First, I need to run my wiring for lights and some other features, then insulate, then wood paneling. After that, we're going to rebuild the bed. Originally we thought we wanted the pull-out bed style, but after a few weekend trips we've decided we want to build a permanent bed platform to maximize the storage space available to us. I'm 6'1", so I've shied away from a sideways bed, but after lounging sideways across the bed last weekend we've decided it can be manageable and we're going to give it a shot. With the sideways bed and the extended body, we should have LOTS of room in the kitchen area. 

This is from before Memorial Day:

We haven't really designed the kitchen cabinets yet, but we are definitely planning to install a sink with fresh and gray water tanks and a pump. We will also probably add an LPG stove. I've been doing a lot of thinking about propane inside the van, and will probably ultimately go with some type of sealed box vented to the outside and add a propane detector alarm so I can sleep at night. My hope is to install a stove on a drawer that slides out the side doors, but I'm not sure how well that will fit behind my passenger without blocking the door or making her uncomfortable. More to come on that one.  

Anyway, I've got some spools of wire, LED lights, a 100 A-H battery, a battery isolator, and a MaxxFan all waiting for install, so hopefully we'll have some updates soon!


2004 Ford E350 SuperDuty Extended
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The following 3 users say Thank You to HumbleBeginnings for this post:
BobBski (09-05-2017), FinallyFree (08-30-2017), highdesertranger (08-29-2017)
And since I mentioned the MaxxFan... I'm always open to advice on location. I was going to put it in the back to leave room for (potential) solar in the front, but 1) the (potential) roof rack would be easier to access if it were in the back, and 2) even though many say they have no water problems with the MaxxFan, I do wonder about having it over my bed.

I'm leaning towards putting it in the center, with room behind for a rack in the future, and room in front for solar in the future. Because the prospect of full-time is so far into our future, it's hard to know what we will eventually want, so I'm just trying not to make any mistakes that will prevent us from doing what we want in the future. The good news is my roof is HUGE so I'm pretty sure I could have a rack, fan, and four 100 watt solar panels all with room to spare.

The ribs on top of the E350 are particularly annoying to me. There is not 14"x14" flat spot anywhere. So I've got that putty tape stuff and lap sealant and maybe I'll sprinkle some holy water on it after the install and hope for the best!
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Nice floor! Details please. . .
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nothing wrong with Humble beginnings. your van looks great. keep us updated on the build. oh yeah go to the "Newcomers corner" and give us an intro and we will give you an official welcome. highdesertranger
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The following 1 user says Thank You to highdesertranger for this post:
HumbleBeginnings (08-30-2017)
Welcome aboard! Smile  I'm with John61CT on the nice floor comment, and wanting details about it.
Doing the Van thing since the early eighties.
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Nice Van!  Looking forward to watching your progression.  Welcome!!
Live Free or Die
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The following 1 user says Thank You to Randingo for this post:
HumbleBeginnings (08-30-2017)
Welcome aboard Matey !

Ye'll be gettin' more answers than ya need to any question ye ask !!!
Stay Tuned

Weirdo Overlord  YARC CRVL edition
12 "Stinkin'Badges"  a "Full Monty Badge" 2 "Just Ignore Me" clusters  4 "Pine Cone" clusters  one "Stinkin' Badger" and 4 of the coveted "Flying Manure Spreader"awards! (What a "Stinkin' " honor !) + ROOIRIA

1981 Travelcraft Class C - 23'
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The following 1 user says Thank You to rvpopeye for this post:
HumbleBeginnings (08-30-2017)
Im jealous. Ill be wastching. Looking good so far!
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The following 1 user says Thank You to OutdoorFT for this post:
HumbleBeginnings (08-30-2017)
The floor was interesting...

We bought the van on a Thursday night, then the next day we found a campground and slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. That's actually when we came up with the name Humble Beginnings! I was getting analysis paralysis with all the decisions to make in the design process. So eventually we decided to call this "van 1.0" and just get a van and get to work, with the understanding that it will be a work in progress with revisions, and potentially even be replaced by something different in the future. That mindset allowed me to actually move forward and be okay with not making everything perfect.

Here's a pic of that first night:

Definitely very humble, but we had a blast!

Two days later, on a Sunday, we were in Costco and saw some laminate flooring on sale. We weren't really planning on installing a floor that day, but the moment hit us, we bought some flooring, and things started rolling. (I can't remember the name of the product, but I can get that once I visit our storage shelves in my mom's garage. Thanks Mom!)

The original plan was to remove the 3/4" plywood that was already in the van, then install wooden battens, foam block insulation, then a new layer of plywood (1/4"?) and put the floor on that. However, as I was in the process of removing the existing plywood and noticing how well it already fit to the internal shape of the van, I started questioning how much effort that process was going to be and how much improvement we were actually going to get out of all that work to replace the plywood with foam. In the end it didn't seem the juice was worth the squeeze so we just put the floating floor directly on top of the existing plywood (the van was previously in the service of Pima County, AZ).

The biggest lesson I learned in this flooring install was... photo composition! I have no idea how I could measure each board so carefully and end up with such uneven ends to our flooring, but at least I figured out how to take a picture without showing that part of it! I will be investing in some very wide trim pieces at some point. 

Anyway, the floor went in over two days (had to go back and buy more flooring, we ended up needing about 2-1/4 boxes). Then we built our bench/bed in two more days (also very uneven) and headed out to the Sequoia National forest for Memorial Day weekend. I've also learned that I better invest in some saw horses if I want to be able to stand up once this build is over!

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Update on that laminate flooring... we bought it at Costco, the brand is Harmonics, and the pattern is Newport Oak.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to HumbleBeginnings for this post:
BobBski (09-05-2017)

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