Converting a Ford Transit Connect

I don’t want to bore you with continuous reports on my Road Trip, so I am going to throw in a Readers Guest Post on converting a Ford Transit to live in. My friend Randy did a great job and I hope you get some good ideas. It’s also important that you remember that my core obligation is those of us in critical need of vandwelling information NOW . They always come first! (Yes, I am aware they probably won’t have a newer Ford Transit, but the ideas found here can still be helpful). More travel posts are to come very soon!

Also, Ridgway was going to get snow (and we were sick and tired of being cold!) so we left there and are now in Moab. Anyone in the area I would love to meet you. Send me an email at [email protected]

The Transit Connects have been built by Ford in Europe since the mid 60’s.  In Europe they’re available with diesel engines and manual transmissions which gives them excellent fuel economy.  Our US versions have a 2.0 Liter four cylinder gas engine with an automatic.  The gas mileage runs from the mid 20’s to upper 20’s.  I have been able to get 28.4 MPG as my best so far.  I previously owned a Ford Econoline with a V6 and I was unsatisfied with the mileage, so I decided to go smaller for the better gas mileage.  In July, 2013 I bought a 2010 Transit Connect with 8,000 miles on it.  Best of all, it was Red!  It is the XLT model, which means it has the power windows, power door locks and cruise control.

The 2010 Ford Transit. It gets up to 28 mpg!

The 2010 Ford Transit. It gets up to 28 mpg!

To start the conversion, I did a lot of research on the Internet.  I found about three different layouts.  I have to give credit to Morehead Design Labs at http://www.Moreheaddesignlab.com.  They have a conversion kit available on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Transit-Connect-Camper-PKG-DIY-Campervan-Van-Cabinets-/280882906179  but instead I just went to Home Depot and bought three sheets of ¾ cabinet grade plywood and improvised.  I did make some changes from Morehead Design Labs design.  I made the bunk/bench wider at 26” and it doesn’t fold against the wall.

Looking at the conversion from the side-door.

Looking at the conversion from the side-door. Notice that the under-bed storage is accessible from the outside.

 Currently I have the bed/bench with storage underneath and the cabinet on the opposite side.  I’ve used plenty of bracing and anchoring to ensure the pieces won’t move in case I’m in an accident.  I used speed nuts and ¼ x 20 bolts ¾” long.  The upper cabinet braces are secured to existing bolts in the body.  The speed nuts are just hammered into place and the bolt is screwed into it from the other side, drawing it’s prongs deep into the wood.  It you want to remove a cabinet in the future it’s just a matter of loosening the bolts and pull the cabinet out.

Speed nuts.

Speed nuts.

 

Everything is secured from moving around with "L" brackets. Wherever possible he took advantage of existing hardware.

Everything is secured from moving around with “L” brackets. Wherever possible he took advantage of existing hardware.

Floor: The floor was covered with a 4X6 piece of the plywood.  It should be anchored to the floor.  Mine isn’t currently anchored.  If I want to use the van to haul larger stuff, all the cabinets and bed/bunk can be easily removed.

The floor is a 4x6 foot sheet of plywood.

The floor is a 4×6 foot sheet of plywood. Eventually he will add a flooring of some kind on top of it. 

Bed/bench: I had Home Depot make all the long straight cuts right in the store.  Their large panel saw does a great job.  All the pieces for the bed/bunk were cut by them.  I just cut out the ‘cubby holes’ on the side.  And then screwed it together using Torx wood screws.  If you have a pocket jig available, I believe it would do a better job.  So after cutting the cubby holes in the uprights, I just screwed it together.  The upright against the wall has to be offset 5” to clear the wheel well.  There are three cubby holes, two facing inward accessible from the center walkway and the third is accessible from the outside after opening the driver side slider.

The bed installed.

The bed installed.

The bed and the shelf-unit installed.

The bed and the shelf-unit installed.

Cabinet: I used a piece of cardboard to trace the curvature of the interior wall.  I then transferred that to the plywood.  Using a jig saw it was easy enough to just follow the pencil marks.  Then I eyeballed the width and where I wanted the cutouts on the side of the cabinet.  Using the Torx screws again, the assembly was fast.

Randy wanted the shef unit to fit snuggly up against the wall with it's many contortions, so he cut a pattern out of carboard firt.

The pattern cut out of cardboard .

 

Curtain and rod: I found the material at my local Goodwill for $5.00.  And, I used a shower rod that has a spring in it.  I just screwed it together until it was the right length to compress it and then put it on some existing plastic ‘knobs’ sticking out at the right height.

The finished curtain installed.

The finished curtain installed.

 

Window covering: I’ve used Reflectix on the rear and slider windows.  I was able to cut it carefully so it’s a press fit.  I will probably remove the individual pieces and spray paint them black.  Then once their pressed into place you won’t be able to see the Reflectix on the outside.  The windows are already tinted and with the black Reflectix it will just look like a limo tint job, but yet private.

 

The bed is narrow but adequate and also gives you good storage underneath.

The bed is narrow but adequate and also gives you good storage underneath.

Future additional enhancements: I will build another shorter cabinet that will sit forward of the existing cabinet.  It will be used to contain a small Dometic refrigerator/freezer in a drawer.  That drawer will open into the middle of the van far enough to swing the lid open.  I’ll then add a swivel table top that will hold the cooktop.  I want to be able to swivel it outside to cook when the weather is good.  But, still have the ability to cook inside if necessary.  The idea was gleaned from this web site: http://www.minicamper.nl/ Their layout is similar to MoreHead’s as well.  If you watch the video, you can see the refridgerator/freezer drawer and swivel cooktop ideas. I will finish out the woodwork clear with a polyurethane.  And, I’ll put a rubber or vinyl floor down that’s easy to sweep out. Ford sells a roof rack that’s specific to this van.  I’d like to buy that and add a couple of solar panels to the roof.  And, the batteries as well.  As time and money permits.

The toilet and water container fight nicely under the shelf unit.

The toilet and water container fight nicely under the shelf unit.

Camping experience so far: Well, I’m 6’3” tall so the bunk is a bit short with the seatback in the driving position.  I just raise the handle and push the seatback, forward a few inches and that gives me the additional space I need to stretch out.  The bunk is 26” wide so it’s a bit narrow but it works okay for me and the chihuahua (Sophie).  While sitting on the bunk facing the cabinet, I have plenty of headroom.  The cabinet is close enough to cook on or use as a laptop table.  But yet, there is enough space between the bunk/bed and cabinet to walk though.

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

91 comments on “Converting a Ford Transit Connect
  1. OpenSpaceman says:

    I gave these a serious look before I got the full size van. What’s not to like…great on gas, good looking, wide open interior to work with and a bunch of design/layout ideas from all over Europe.

    Once you get the solar…this will be one green machine. Good job!

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      Thanks for the kind words. Randy

    • Marie says:

      Pretty awesome there! I am going to search for a van too so I can do this soon..thanks for pics and info.great work!!

    • great job man….i am looking at the exact same vehicle….i would like something bigger but with the price of gas it just isn’t worth it….i am just a hair under 6′ 185lbs…i plan a layout very similar to yours….bunk one side kitchen storage the other….plan on full solar as well as a compost toilet… I am a photographer….i really want to drive all the way down to patagonia from Toronto Canada…and document the whole trip with my cameras….i am 52 now and recently single so no time better than the present,,,,.anyway, again – great job…safe travels mate !!

      • Bob Bob says:

        drew, thanks, he really did a great job! Sounds like you will have a great trip south of the border.
        Bob

      • j flex says:

        you will never make it through the Darién Gap

        • Natalie says:

          My friends shared a cargo container with some other road trippers. They shipped their vans and picked them up in Columbia. They’re heading back from Tierra del Fuego right now. Cool, huh?

          • Natalie says:

            Shipped the vans from Panama, that is! And then flew over and met the cars at the port. Took a few weeks to arrange it all. But they’re living their adventure.

  2. Douglas says:

    Nice and simple. That’s the way to keep it. I could even use this idea one day to be able to work out of, but tools are heavy and can take up quite a bit of space.

    How much do these transit connects run in your area.
    Douglas recently posted…PathfindersMy Profile

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      They are not cheap. New one’s run approximately $25,000. I found a 2010 with 8,000 miles for $19,000 in Lake Havasu.

      Randy

  3. Cyrus says:

    Nice job! I have been thinking about converting one of these, but the lack of space has been stopping me. I don’t need a lot of space, but I do fulltime in the van and I have a lot of hobbies so I do need SOME space. I am planning on holding out for the 2015 series full sized Transit diesel and converting that.
    Cyrus recently posted…What is slacklining?My Profile

  4. Lee says:

    I previously had a TC fitted as a camper but have replaced it with an E250. I still have the roof rack set up for the TC which you’re welcome to if you’re anywhere near the Sarasota, FL area. Get back to me if interested.

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      Lee,

      That’s a very generous offer. Unfortunately I live in Phoenix AZ. The shipping would cost way too much. I do want a way to mount a solar panel or two. I’ll probably use 2″ square aluminum to make a simple rack. I’ve been lucky to find a Dometic 19 liter refrigerator/freezer on Craigslist and a 95AH AGM battery. I keep watching the ads and buying when the deals are good. Thanks again Lee!

      Randy

      • Joni says:

        Hey Randy and Lee;

        Well, first, nice unit!! *smile*

        I also happen to be travelling from Florida to Arizona in January for RTR and since I don’t carry anything on my roof rack I don’t think another roof rack tied on would hurt my gas mileage…if I can help get that unused rack from one of y’all to the other…??

        Let me know…

        Regards,

        Joni

        • Randy Sanderson says:

          Joni,

          Wow! Thanks for the offer.

          Lee,

          Can you send me a picture of the roof rack? You can send it to my [email protected] email address. Then I can figure out if it’s a good idea to have Joni drop by and pick it up.

          I had an idea I would copy Wayne Weirs roof rack using 2X2 aluminum. Here is a link so you can see what he’s done.

          http://waynewirs.com/2013/nissan-nv-stealth-camper-roof-rack-and-solar-panels/

          It looks simple enough. You guys have probably figured out by now that I plagiarize ideas from all over the net.

          Thank you both!

          • Randy Sanderson says:

            Wayne,

            Pardon my fat fingers. It’s Wayne Wirs. (not Weirs)

            He has a fantastic blog if ya’ll haven’t checked it out. Beautiful pictures and words…

        • Lee says:

          Joni,

          Thanks for offering! If Randy decides that works for him I’ll try to arrange meeting you so as not to take you too far out of your way.

          • Joni says:

            Just let me know if I can help *smile*!

          • Randy Sanderson says:

            Lee,

            I posted a comment above but it says it’s awaiting moderation. (?) I’ve sent Bob an email asking him about it.

            In that comment I had asked if you’d be willing to send me a picture of the rack. If you don’t mind send it to MotoRandy (at) gmail (dot) com. I think the email address ‘tripped up’ the comment.

            Thanks to you both!

          • Bob Bob says:

            that’s right Randy. The anti-spam software doesn’t like it when you include your own email address or a You-tube link.

            But, I used to get over a 100 spams a day so I don’t mind even a little the very occasional problem with it.

            I approved the post so it will show now.
            Bob

          • Randy Sanderson says:

            Lee & Joni,

            YES, I would like the roof rack. If you two could arrange it I would very much like the roof rack. If I can do anything, please let me know.

            Thank you both!
            Randy

  5. Todd says:

    Thanks for sharing this information Randy!

    I am interested in the Transit Connect. Here is a thing I am wondering about: can you move from the driver’s area to the “house,” without going outside?

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      Todd,

      This one made me laugh. I’m WAY too big to accomplish that! But, if you were under six feet and normal weight, you could easily move to the back without going outside. You would move to the passenger seat, then turn 180, stand on the seat and go between the two seat backs. I wish I could do that. But, I get out and go to the back, open the door and go in that way. Maybe I’ll shrink as I get older and maybe loose some weight, but don’t make any bets on it…

      Best,
      Randy

  6. Myddy says:

    I like it, it’s a great way to use the space in that vehicle. Gives me ideas, in the future I plan on downsizing from my behemoth of a van to something smaller.
    Myddy recently posted…The budget (envelopes)My Profile

  7. cerenatee says:

    I love this. Simple and complete. If I was traveling alone, I would grab it in a minute. I’m 5’8″ so I think it would be perfect for me, as is. I can see putting my clothes, toilet, and hobbies underneath the bed, putting my stove, refrigerator, water and cooler in the cabinet, and having one of those wooden, fold-up tables for my laptop and cooking.

    I would glue flexible solar panels on the roof – if needed – but I’m guessing you don’t want to make any permanent changes (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    Anyway, your layout and van are awesome and I appreciate the extra links to additional information. I love my hubby but I started planning to van dwell when I was single and a part of me misses the simplicity, solitude, and maybe even serenity, of my earlier plans. There’s definitely something to be said for a person and his/her pet. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing and peace on your travels.

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      Cerenatee,

      Thanks for the kind words, you’re very nice.

      I do plan to build a simple roof rack. There are mounting points on the roof. I’ll attach the rack to those mounting points so I can remove them in the future if needed. I will mount a couple of solar panels to recharge the batteries. I’m enjoying the Dometic (Waeco) refrigerator and it of course runs off batteries.

      I have a dream too…

  8. Diane says:

    I have had my eye on these great, fuel efficient vehicles and wondered if they would convert well. Great work…it is beautiful!!!!

  9. Joe S says:

    Great build! Very nice.

    Bob – Sorry to get off topic but I just came across an article stating that Utah is going to reopen its National Parks on Saturday! Looks like you will be able to go to Arches while you’re in Moab.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/11/us/utah-parks-reopen/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

    • Bob Bob says:

      That’s right Joe, the National Parks have reopened in Utah. The state was loosing so much in tourism dollars it was worth it to them to give the Feds $166,000 a day to cover the cost of the parks.

      It’s great to have them open, but there is so much to do around Moab that I would have come here even without Arches NP. But the rest of the state is different, if they hadn’t reopened I would have left for Arizona when we are done here.
      Bob

  10. DougB says:

    Seems odd, but although the use of the limited space is really, really impressive, what I seem to like best is those radiused corners every place you could use them. Stylish, and good for the plywood’s durability in use. It’s a detail that few bother with, and it’s nice.
    DougB recently posted…Nope. No Soap.My Profile

  11. LaVonne says:

    Beautiful conversion, simple and clean. Makes me wish I had carpentry skills. And wasn’t so lazy.
    LaVonne recently posted…Ouch!My Profile

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      LaVonne,

      The funny thing is, it was all done with a jigsaw. It did take a bit of guess work and eyeballing. But using someone else’s ideas always helps and makes it much easier.

      I have bursts of energy between a lot of laziness. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment.

  12. GKS says:

    My husband and I had talked about traveling when we were young but work, children, and farm animals put that on hold. I plan on retiring in about a year and a half and have been looking into converting a Ford Transit, because of the great gas mileage. We plan on doing all the interior work, my husband has great carpentry skills. We plan on actually sleeping in a tent most of the time, but may have to sleep inside during bad weather. My question is can a Transit be fitted with a futon type bed that will sleep 2. And do most people who travel sleep inside.

    • Randy Sanderson says:

      GKS,

      Yes, I believe you COULD set up a futon type of bed in the Transit. I had looked at the old VW Vanagon’s which had a couch across the van that could be pulled out to form a bed. Then you could put cabinets on both sides. I may still rebuild one day and do this. Glenn Morrissette has done this in his blog To Simplify. If you look at this link…

      http://www.tosimplify.net/2013/06/sofa-bed.html

      You’ll see the mechnicals in that episode. If you follow along with his build, you’ll see how it could be duplicated in the Transit. Although, the cabinets alongside would have to be narrower. Or, only build the cabinets on one side. Glenn has done a beautiful job on the Vanagon.

      If you decide to move forward with the Transit and the build out, I’d love to see your progress. You can find my email address above.

      Yes, the one’s I’ve met do sleep inside. Just put stuff away, and roll on…

    • Bob Bob says:

      GKS, Randy answered your question but I would like to comment on it as well. For a couple to live full-time in the small Ford Transit you would both have to be extreme minimalists. Think in terms of being backpackers who upgrade to a Transit. It would be plenty of room for them, but for everyone else it would be much too small.

      If you will only take trips in it, then it would be a great choice!
      Bob

    • JH says:

      Converting a Ford Connect for two person sleeping inside presents some challenges without going the expensive of one of those European box solutions. I’m collecting ideas for our project. A couple of interesting conversions, including a folding bed in the first:

      http://www.happycampers.is/modal.php?url=cars_o_prices/happy_1/

      A variation of the three boxes in the second video may work if we can manage to sleep across 43-47″. Just a little narrower than our queen sized bed, but without any roll together.

      • Bob Bob says:

        JH, take photos while you are doing it and I will run them on the blog. I’m very interested to see how you can fit two people in one of those!
        Bob

        • JH says:

          The only competition the Ford Connect seems to have in the North American market is the Nissan NV200. Introduced in 2013, so no lower km used options yet.

          http://www.nissanusa.com/future-and-concept-vehicles/nv200-compact-cargo

          My ideal would be something the size of an Astro with a 2.5-3.0L turbo diesel, 5 speed manual. Not prepared to move to Europe to get it though.

          • Bob Bob says:

            JH, the rumor is that this will be the last year for the tradition American van. Starting next year they will all be European style vans like the Transit or Nissan. I understand the issue is meeting Federal CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. The poor mileage of the big iron (trucks and vans) is dragging down the CAFE average so they have to bring them up to meet it. Of course they will all be very expensive, but they should get much better mpg.

            Your dream van may come true sooner than you think!
            Bob

  13. Jan M says:

    I appreciate the details also. I’m getting ready to live my dream in a year . . . so time to plan to live! I just started looking at options and found this TC today and began looking at conversions. So exciting to see the work others have done. I look forward to seeing your photos as you continue your work. It doesn’t look like you added insulation, is there a reason except that you live in Arizona?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Jan, I’m not sure if Randy will answer or not. But I think since he is not going to live in it and is just taking trips in it he decided to not insulate. It seems to me he is also planning to insulate it later, but I could be wrong.

      That’s exactly what I did with my van. I live in a 6×10 cargo trailer which is heavily insulated but I didn’t insulate the van because it is only for trips.

      I can tell you it makes a tremendous difference. I spent the first few nights in the van after I got the back to the trailer and I had to bundle up with blankets. But when I moved back into the trailer I took most of them off and was still warm. If you are going to live in it, I’d insulate. The problem is you have so little room to begin with you hate to loose any more, but it is much more comfortable. An inch of PolyIso foam board is the highest R value you can get and is easy to work with. I suggest an inch of that.
      Bob
      Bob

      • Randy Sanderson says:

        Jan,

        Yes, being in Phoenix doesn’t make insulation a priority. Bob’s right, the space IS small so I’d only be able to add 1″ of insulation.

        I’ve been busy adding solar. I’ve covered the floor with a nice vinyl and painted the cabinet and bunk. It’s an ongoing project. I use the TC primarily for camping. Once I retire (2 years), I will plan to part-time. I’d like to come back to Phoenix for the winters and wander North for the summers.

        Best,
        Randy

  14. Chris Boyles says:

    The Honda Element is also a great choice and relatively inexpensive at about 5K and comes with great Honda quality. I have a 2003 manual and after ten years the interior material is still in great shape as are the mechanics. The only repairs I have had to make in ten years is rear bushings and front cv joint boot replacement. It still gets 21-24 mpg. It has AWD and comes with camping accessories which you can buy that are made by Honda for the vehicle such as all around window curtains, tailgate cabana, and tailgate tent. I take the head rest off the driver’s seat, fold the front seat to the back seat, and use a single air bed that is a perfect fit. You can remove the back seats for more storage or fold them up against the inside walls of the vehicle. I removed the passenger back seat for more storage. I also use sailboat hammock nets inside to add storage to utilize the upper top side near the roof. It has a true tailgate and side suicide doors facilitating bulk storage. The vinyl floor is a snap to clean up and much better than carpet. I am in the process of purchasing a roof top camping tent so I can carry more items inside the SUV. You can check out the camping modification section at the Honda Element owner’s club website. I would suggest trying to find a 2003-2005 model as it has plastic front and rear wheel panels, heaver quality paint, and the driver’s seat folds/slides forward for loading large bulky objects. They are getting hard to find since Honda quit making them in 2011 and people are snapping them up because of their versatility. The url for the Element owners group is: http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/

    • Bob Bob says:

      Chris, you’re right, the Element makes a great live-aboard rig and it has the legendary Honda quality and reliability. It’s only problem is it has fairly low top, while the Transit is smaller inside, but it has a fairly high top. In day-to-day living, the height of the top is pretty important and makes the Transit very appealing.
      Bob

      • Randy Sanderson says:

        Chris,

        I agree with Bob. I owned a Honda Element prior to the Transit Connect. The Element I had was the 2011; the last year. I loved that car. I removed the rear seats and built a platform (4’X4′). I would slide the front seats forward all the way and remove the headrests, then fold them downward to meet the platform. It gave me plenty of room to stretch out. But over time I realized it was like crawling into a pup tent. And if you had to get out at night to relive yourself it was a pain.

        On a prior build, I used the roof top tent on top of a chuck box mounted to a 4’X6′ trailer. I used one of Camping Labs tents (google them). The tent was very good quality. But, like any type of tent camping it has to be dry before you can pack it away. Places like San Diego where it can be foggy in the morning means you have to wait awhile before you can move on. With the Transit Connect I just squeegee the window, start the engine and move on.

        There are pro’s and con’s to all the different ways to ‘vandwell.’ For my needs and wants, the Transit Connect has the most pro’s. I enjoy the MPG, being able to sit upright, being stealthy and come and go as I wish. 30 years ago I used to motorcycle camp in the Blue Ridge mountains. My weekend outing would typically cost me $20. Some summers I would travel there 5 or 6 times. I’ve recreated the cheap camping I enjoyed years ago.

        Enjoy your Element, they’re great cars.

        Best,
        Randy

        P.S. I’ve just about finished the TC. Since this article was published, I’ve:

        Finished the floor with vinyl.
        Painted all the wood.
        Added the additional cabinet that holds the cooktop, and a drawer for my Dometic fridge.
        Added solar (100AH battery, controller & 140 watt panel.
        Added LED lighting.
        Added a inverter and SMALL microwave.
        Added a removable awning.

        I still need to do something about a roof rack. I would like to permanently mount the panel to the roof. Unfortunately, I lost track of the offer above to get the free roof rack… 🙁

        • Bob Bob says:

          So we can expect a second guest post with your final changes, right Randy!!
          Bob

          • Randy Sanderson says:

            Bob,

            I would enjoy a second guest post! Let me get some pictures and I’ll write a few paragraphs. I’ll be in touch.

            I’ll also be coming out to Quartzsite during the winter RTR, as work allows. If I can’t take vacation, I’ll be coming out for the weekends. Work is always getting in the way of a good time. And, we all know the RTR’s ARE a good time.

            Thanks,
            Randy

          • Bob Bob says:

            Thanks Randy, a follow-up with your new mods on the Transit would be great!! The RTR is a wonderful time! Best of all are the amazing friendships people make.
            Bob

  15. Timbo says:

    That is absolutely awesome! I’ve been thinking about getting a TC for a while now and converting it into some sort of camper. This thread gives me some great ideas!

    I have a question, though.. Have you had any issues with the transmission? I’ve read a lot of negative reviews about transmission problems. Enough of them that is has my a little wary and wanting to look into it further before “pulling the trigger” on the van.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Timbo, I posted that quite awhile ago and I doubt Randy will answer your question. I have an update on his TC coming up soon because he finished it inside and it is beautiful!! When I do you can ask him then.

      Ironically he was here today before I saw your question. If he comes back I will ask him.
      Bob

    • Randy says:

      Timbo,

      I was talking to one tradesman that used a Transit daily in his job. He mentioned that the transmission had been replaced in his Transit. But he admitted that it was WAY over loaded (too much weight inside.) I came away from this conversation with, don’t overload them or expect to put a heavy trailer. I believe they are a solid van that would last a ‘vandweller’ for many years. I’ve seen some real high mileage Transits. I wouldn’t hesitate, pull the trigger.

      Best,
      Randy

      • Timbo says:

        Hey, Randy, thanks for the feedback!

        I did in fact pull the trigger last weekend on a low miles 2010 TC. I am now in the process of researching my options for camper kits. I like the simplicity of the one pictured on this thread and will likely create some version based on it.

        I can’t wait to get started on this project!
        For months I’ve been dreaming of building a tiny camper/weekender so I could get away on my days off and do more overnight hiking/kayaking/camping trips and bluegrass festivals.

        I am very excited about the possibilities ahead of me!

        -T

  16. Jean says:

    is there a small bathroom and where is it???

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Jean, if you go to the is update on the Transit you will see that he has a very small bathroom: a 5 gallon bucket!! :)
      https://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/update-ford-transit-connect-ftc/

      I'm just teasing, there is no bathroom, he uses a 5 gallon bucket as a toilet and takes sponge baths.
      Bob

  17. Randy E. says:

    Very nice conversion, Bob. I bought a new Transit Connect in 2010 and lived in it for almost a year and half- was a wonderful experience! I stayed on the streets in and around my town and was lucky to have a wonderful spot on some acreage where I worked- awakened by roosts of turkeys and all sorts of wildlife around me, again, was a wonderful time- my wife and I now camp in the transit, she would not move into it when we married ;-}}. Take Care.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Randy, sounds like a wonderful experience you will always treasure! Not many women would be willing to live in a Transit with another person! I know Judy wouldn’t! Neither would I.
      Bob

  18. Timbo says:

    Bob, if you’re still checking in on this thread, can you tell me (about) how long it took the OP to build and install the camper kit shown above?

    Thanks!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Timbo, I’m sorry I can’t answer that. The OP is still working and in a home so this is a hobby more than anything. I think he just did it as he had time. He’s taking trips in it but will retire soon and he may or may not live in it.

      It’s pretty basic carpentry so I wouldn’t think it would take too long if you had time to devote to it. I think a good handyman could do it in a week maybe.
      Bob

  19. Julia says:

    Hello Bob!

    What a fabulous site you have here. I have really enjoyed it, and I have just finished reading the comments on this particular thread and have found them very helpful and interesting.

    I have a question for you. Have you seen van dwellers who inhabit a Honda Odyssey? That is what my son and I (he’s 9) are hoping to travel in during the coming year. I am currently trying to convert it to a camper and have really enjoyed finding great ideas all over the web during the past several months of research, but I am hard pressed to find many ideas for using a Honda Odyssey (2006 in our case) as a dwelling for 2!

    Any thoughts or ideas are most greatly appreciated.

    And again – I love your site!

    Julia

    • Bob Bob says:

      Julie, I don’t know anyone specifically in a Odyssey, but I do know people living in Honda minivans. Are you talking about taking trips, or living in it? I’ll answer like you want to live in it. I’ve got to tell you I know very few couples in vans and only one mother-son and they are in a Chevy Tahoe. I think there is a reason so few people doing it–it’s very hard! Judy and I lived in her van for almost 3 months and it was not easy.

      There is not enough space in the Odyssey for the two of you to be comfortable in it so you have to plan to spend most of your time outside. If you like camping, that’s fine. HOWEVER, when bad weather settles in it gets old real fast!! Especially rain and wind.

      Unless money just makes it impossible, I strongly encourage you to get an extended full-size van and put a high-top on it. You will be so much more comfortable, it will be well worth it.

      If you are only talking about trips then the Odyssey will be fine. You can do anything for a little while.
      Bob

  20. Julia says:

    Thanks a million for your kindness in taking the time to respond, Bob. I appreciate it very much, especially considering how much I respect your thoughts based on all I’ve read from you (and your help and kindness toward others) on your website.

    You ask if the van would be used for traveling or living. To be honest, it would be both. Think of it as extended traveling…so…let’s say for a month or two at a time…maybe more.

    I want to take my son on the road as a homeschooling adventure. We’d like to criss-cross these beautiful United States, and we would like to stay in as many free places as possible…perhaps state and national parks, some boondocking, even Walmart (and the like) parking lots or truck stops when necessary. I want this to be a memorable trip for my son – not a miserable one!

    The good thing about our old Odyssey would be the gas mileage and driving comfort as compared with larger box style vans. Plus we already own it!

    The difficult thing, as you so honestly and concisely point out, is the lack of space.

    I have shopped and shopped for a Chevy Astro, because I don’t want gas mileage to be such an issue that I can’t afford to drive us anywhere. I fear this with the larger extended box vans that you suggest. Those would likely get 12 mpg or so…maybe even less…and would thus preclude us from being able to travel as I would like on a daily basis.

    If you have any further guidance to offer to us I would be most grateful. Meanwhile if you know which larger vans would be best for me to shop for, I would greatly appreciate those thoughts as well.

    I am open to all suggestions. I assume I could sell my Honda Odyssey and use the money to buy a larger van for our traveling purposes (as long as mpg is not cost prohibitive!), but I’m having difficulty finding anything comparable.

    Thank you so very much for your time and attention. I am very grateful to you for taking the time.

    Julia

    • Bob Bob says:

      Julie, it’s really hard for me to answer because some people could travel in the Odyssey and love it even though it’s small and another mother and son would hate every second. It’s something only you can answer. Have you done any camping or slept in a tent? If you have and you liked roughing it, then the Odyssey should be fine because it’s bigger than many tents.

      I’m not trying to discourage you, I think it’s a wonderful idea and could easily be one of the best memories of both you and your sons’s life!! But for that to happen you need to be very realistic about your needs.

      It’s all about attitude! If you and your son (both!!) look at it as a wonderful adventure but like all adventures it means some discomfort and hard times, then go for it! If not, then go for something larger and more comfortable.

      I have three suggestions:

      1) Go camping. Find out your tolerance for discomfort (heat, cold, bugs, rain, being dirty, boredom, small spaces).
      2) Include your son in the planning, get his feedback. Let him know life will be much harder than it is now. Does he want that?
      3) Try to get him excited about adventure and explorers. Study some of them and the hardships they all went though. Maybe follow the Oregon Trail or Lewis and clark.

      Done right, this really could be the BEST time of both of your lives!

      P.S The newer Chevy Express with 5.3 or 4.8 liter V8 can easily get 18-20 mpg and will have a lot more room!

      Bob

  21. Ken Fox says:

    I would like to use a microwave 700/ 1040serge.I have a house battery jell type optimo

    • Bob Bob says:

      Ken, the Optima batteries are small and if you only have one it probably won’t be enough. How will you recharge the battery after you drain it for the microwave?

      700 watts is the cooking power, it will use at least 1200 watts from your battery. Microwaves are very touchy about quality of power. They will work on a modified sine wave, but very poorly, I don’t recommend it. You need a 2000 watt Pure Sine Wave inverter.

      It’s not very practical for you.
      Bob

  22. Darius says:

    Hi, I am new in the blog. I’m thinking of getting ford transit or dodge promaster from 2012 and up. I have my dealer lic so can get them for a better price. I got to admit I”m very bad carpenter so If you guys know a good one who can do the conversion?
    Much appreciate
    Darius

    • Bob Bob says:

      Darius, I strongly suggest you join my forum. We’ve talked a lot about the Transit and Promaster and even a few people who own them. You can get a lot of help there!

      Plus, post where you are to the forum and ask if anyone is nearby who can help you. Go to the top of the page and click on the “Forum” button and join.
      Bob

  23. Mike says:

    Do you know if the pre-2014 TC’s came in a long wheel base model? Is Randy’s TC a SWB? If so, I find it amazing that he fits at 6’3! I’d like to get either 2014/15 TC LWB for the extra length but I’m discouraged because it looks like the top is lower & Id like that headroom space that Randy’s 2010 gives even at his height! I’m 5’10 & have sat in the newer & older TC’s & it feels like a big difference in headroom space. I’m in a dilemma! If the older TC’s don’t come in LWB, do I go for their headroom vs. the length of the newer TC?
    Thanks!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Boy Mike, I’m sorry but I really can’t answer, I’m just not that familiar with them to have an informed opinion. If you are going to be living in it fulltime, in general I’d say that length is more important in that small a space. If you are just taking trips then the height might be more important.
      Bob

  24. George says:

    Bob, I love your article. Every time I see a small Transit van, I’ve always thought it would be a great touring RV for solo musicians. I came upon this article last night and been reading your website since. Thanks for the great ideas and practical advice. Much gratitude and safe travels.

    God bless you –
    George

  25. Robert Kite says:

    I have jut purchased a 2007 Transit Connect, mainly for transporting my Chocolate Labrador! As we will be going to shows, fitting out the van for overnighters is something I am willing to do, and your blog is giving me plenty of scope. Still waiting for delivery, as it needs a full service/cambelts/tyres and a valet. Once done, it will have its MOT (UK annual road safety test, for vehicles over 3 years old), and then I will have it. Being UK spec., it is manual with the 1.8l diesel engine. Wish me luck

    • Bob Bob says:

      Robert, I do wish you lots of good luck! The Transit should woork out really well for you as a part-time camper.

      Give your chocolate Lab a hug for me!
      Bob

  26. Palmer Fitzgerald says:

    I’m looking at the transit Connect if VW doesn’t offer a new camper van soon. I currently have an 84 Vanagon Camper bought new 5 Dec 1983. I wouldn’t put all that carpentry into it though. I know, that was there as a hobby anyway. However I’d just put in a mattress, a sleeping bag, a folding table, and a couple backpacks for starters anyway.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Palmer, yeah some people just want a very simple conversion and some people want a very elaborate one. It’s just whatever floats your boat!!
      Bob

  27. Addie says:

    This was such a wonderful blog to stumble upon as my boyfriend and I start our van search. We love that the Ford Transit Connect gets great gas mileage for a van, but does that mileage withstand the weight of all the wooden features built inside?

  28. Joy says:

    Hi Bob, I’m just beginning to research-plan to get one and have someone help me convert it. What do you use for heat? Do you have an extra battery?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Joy, I just use my Coleman 1 burner propane stove as my heater. I turn it on very low and cover it in case something accidentally falls on it. It’s never set off my carbon monoxide alarm and I’be been doing it for years.

      I have 380 watts of solar and 4 golf cart batteries for my electrical system. That’s a huge abundance for me! On a tight budget, you could just start with a Walmart Marine battery as a house battery and an on-off switch to charge it from the starting battery
      Bob

  29. Susan Harrington says:

    Hi,
    Any suggestions for someone who doesn’t build but wants to convert a Ford Transit into a camper. Who would you recommend making modifications without being ripped off. Any simple ideas for power and how to make a bed.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Susan, you can make a simple bed with a piece of plywood, cut the legs from a 2×4, screw down into them from above and use shelf brackets to stabilize them. The rest of the van can be used furniture like desks and shelves You can even use end tables as the base for a bed, just sit the plywood on top of it. Then use plastic drawers and totes everywhere. You don’t have to build hardly anything! Here are videos demonstarating that

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYHbWbIsYhg

    • Susan Harrington says:

      Hi Bob,
      I sent this question a few months ago before I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease. I can’t see the video because I took forever to check back. Thank you for your response. I would want to keep the Transit cool because I have a cat.
      Thanks!

  30. Ron F says:

    Hi Bob. Nice build out. This is exactly what I am looking for! What are the dimensions of the bed base and the cabinet base if you don’t mind? Apologies if you have posted the specs elsewhere.
    All the best! Ron.

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  33. thuy says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  34. Walt Elliott says:

    I’ve got a 2010 Transit Connect like in your great article. I’d like to put in a roof vent as the rear windows don’t open. The issue is the ridges on the roof and how to accommodate a flat roof vent to them so it seals well. Any ideas?

  35. joel r siemion says:

    Bob I bought a 2017 Ford Transit Connect I am struggling with what the best method of insulating the roof might be as I know there’s no way to get a True Vapor Barrier. When I sleep in at there is lots of condensation and I can’t imagine putting some kind of plastic wrap against the roof before any polyisocyanurate what are your suggestions for best insulation of the roof

  36. Rob W says:

    Was the side window already in or did you fit it

  37. Mike Mulcey says:

    Hey Bob, just wanted to write and tell you how much of an inspiration this post was for me in getting my own transit connect converted and on the road. In showing the fundamentals for building the interior. I just posted one of our first posts outlining our build with a 2015 passenger model. Thanks again!

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