Ingenious Van Conversion with Simple Indoor Shower!
I have lots of interests and things I want to talk to you good folks about but I always want to stay true to my core values of educating and inspiring about the joys of vandwelling. After a busy summer of travel, I’m re-emphasizing those values.
So today I want to take a look at the wonderful, cozy van home my good friend Sameer created for himself. Like myself he is a boondocker and spent this last summer in the high country of Colorado and just recently he got back to Flagstaff. Judy and I also just got back to Flagg so he stopped by for a most welcome visit! He kindly agreed to allow me to take some pictures of his van and post them for you.
One of the first things you notice when he opens his side door is that he has turned his passenger seat around to make it a reclining easy-chair. It’s hard to overemphasis how very important it is to have a comfortable place to lounge in your van. After all, in the winter you have at least 12-14 hours of cold and darkness every night and year-around there are periods of bad weather that force you inside the van. If you’re going to be inside the van that much, you want comfortable seating and turning the front seat around does that extremely well. I’ve know many vandwellers who did it and every one of them said it was the best thing they did to their van home! It’s possible to find a swivel seat base for most vans online, but they’re expensive, usually about $160. So most people simply unbolt their seat, turn it around, and bolt it back down. Usually you can reuse the same holes, but occasionally you have to drill a new one or two. That works well and it’s free but you have to be very careful that it doesn’t block your rear-view mirror. That would be unacceptable.
A surprising advantage of turning the seat around is that it makes the van feel much more open. When you open the side door you usually see the tall back of the seat, but with it turned around it’s much more wide open feeling. That’s all the more surprising because Sameer put in a closet to the left of the door. Like many of us, his bed is across the back with storage underneath and there’s a closet from the bed to the side door. He hangs clothes at the top and at the bottom is plastic drawers and totes. The closet could have made the van seem closed in and small, but with the seat turned around it doesn’t feel that way at all. In front of the closet is a standard plastic 3-drawer unit for easy storage and it also serves as Sameer’s entertainment center as well. He has a radio on top of it and mounted to the wall above it is his small TV. He raises a TV antenna with PVC tubing to get over the air TV. It’s surprising how well that works To power the few electronics he uses he has a 100 watt solar panel on the roof which meets his needs very well.
The one thing that stands out as very special in Sameer’s van is that he was sure he wanted to have running water and to be able to take a shower in the van. He carries a Potty/Shower tent that he likes, but he can’t always use it. For example, when he’s stealth parking in town or during periods of bad weather. So he put in a very simple and ingenious indoor plumbing system–it’s so simple, anyone can do it!
Behind the drivers seat is a build-it-yourself cube he got at a thrift store and he cut a hole in it and dropped a sink in it. Underneath he uses 1 gallon bottle as a fresh water tank. A hand-pump he got at Amazon pumps the water for him. At the back of the cube you’ll see a 1.3 gallon, battery pressurized garden sprayer. That’s what he uses for his shower. You can buy both of them from Amazon at these links (if you do, I’ll make a small percentage of all your purchases or the next 24 hours, even if you don’t buy these items) Battery Powered Sprayer, 1.3-Gallon or the hand pump Leisure Components Hand Pump
In the space between the cube and the bed is a plywood box he built which, incredibly, is both his kitchen and his bathroom!! His stove is on top of the box and that’s where he cooks. To turn into the the bathroom, the top piece lifts off and inside is a heavy duty plastic tote. Inside that he carries his 5-gallon bucket which is his tote and various other items in storage. To use the 5-gallon bucket to take a poop, he take the top off, turns the bucket upright, lines it with plastic bags and uses it inside the plastic tote. Afterwards he returns it to it’s side and puts the top back on.
The heavy duty plastic tote is also his bathtub where he showers! To shower, he takes the top off and removes everything. He already installed a permanent drain into the bottom of the tote that simply drains outside on the ground. This is where the genius of his system starts to show up! Above his head is a shower curtain hanging from the roof and the sprayer part of the garden sprayer goes up to it and hangs down into the tub.
Above the tub is his shower curtain. It hangs from a square he made out of PVC tubing which is mounted to the roof by chains. He uses a standard shower curtain and hangers and when not in use he just tucks the shower curtain above the PVC hoop with a bungee. To take a shower:
- He warms up water (either on his stove or outside in the sun) and fills the 1.3 gallon pressure sprayer with the warm water.
- Then he steps inside the tub, pulls down the curtain so it’s all around him and tucked into the tub. He sits on the edge of the tub for the actual shower.
- He reaches over and turns on the garden sprayer.
- The water comes down from the sprayer and he takes his shower! When he’s done he turns it off and dries off.
- The water all drains outside and once the curtain dries off, he tucks it back away.
It really is a very simple and ingenious system! It’s biggest advantage is that there is no wasted space. The tub is fully utilized for storage and on top its his kitchen. The shower curtain and hoop is overhead and takes no space. The one gallon sprayer is small enough you don’t even notice it’s there. And yet getting it ready to use as a shower is very simple and not difficult to do at all! It took Sameer less than five minutes to get the shower ready to use–not including warming the water.
I hope you got some inspiration our of Sameer’s van and find a way to turn some of his great ideas into a better home and better life for yourself!