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I have a mini van that I plan to convert to a camper for full-timing. I don't want to or plan to tear out the interior of the sides or roof so I am in need of knowing what is best to insulate, keep away condensation, and avoid the whole nasty mold/mildew mess - my plans are to build "a box" that will slide into the hatch containing my bed frame, shelves, etc.....I don't want to use any kind of "gluing" products - I want to be able to remove the "box" and put the seats back in if I decide to come off the road............my thought is to attach the Styrofoam insulation to the outer side of the "box" prior to inserting it - do I want to put the bubble foil (whatever it's called - it's late and mind isn't working at 100%) on the windows - keep in mind that I currently reside in NE Ohio and will be running anywhere between here, Alabama, and Florida - your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
A mini van is small for full timing. Not impossible at all -I don't say that in a discouraging manner- , but it is a bit small. Then to make a box that will slide in through the rear doors will make it smaller yet. More like a tent-sized space, which is fine, but keep aware of the size limitation.

If you put Styrofoam or any kind of insulation on the outer surface, it will rip right off as you slide the box in. Insulation has no shear strength to speak of. Unless you maybe use rails to guide the box in. It will be too bulky/heavy to slide in without bumping and scraping things.

I'm thinking using 1/2" (maybe 3/8"?) OSB or plywood for the outside bolting perforated angle iron at the inside edges to give stability. Then a small layer of insulation about 1/2", then some 1/8" paneling on the inside. Or some bathroom wall paneling on the inside. That would be more resistant to moisture and would be smoother to rub up against and to clean.

Reflectix on the windows works well. If you can cover the windows on the outside, that works better.

Have you considered forgoing the box and placing insulation on the inside of the van? Then line the inside with bathroom wall paneling and using shelving to brace the paneling because the paneling is flimsy. Removing pieces of insulation and paneling would be quick and easy. Hefting a large box would almost need another hand to lift it in and out safely and easily. And you would get more room. Probably less damage from scraping a box in and out, too.

I've seen some people set up their Jeep Cherokee for extended traveling. You might get some good ideas from them.

Moisture is a bugger in small places. You can mitigate it, but you can't always eliminate it.
Ventilation is the key to moisture problems, not insulation. Same for cooling. Shade and sunshine can be utilized as needed without being a hindrance when you don't.

If you create your interior out of individual portable items it will probably be easier than your slide in idea. I can move everything into or out of my van within an hour or so, with no tools required.

A tailgater/teardrop style kitchen could be put in the back, but make it a pass through, so it can be used from either inside or outside.

There's some pretty comfortable portable cots on the market these days.

Good Luck!
Thank you both for your responses. After reading them several times and then thinking on your advice, this is what I have decided to do/not do: 1) not going to bother with the "slide-in box"; 2) building a plywood wall at the hatchback - this will serve a couple of purposes - it will allow me to add a fold-down table to the outside on which I can prepare/cook food, under a detachable canopy of course - I am also going to build in storage between the wall and the table to keep the Coleman stove and small propane tanks, (note* I will be cooking on open fire as much as possible though) - the inside of the wall will serve as a place for me to attach a fold down tv shelf, hang my first aid kit, and put up a memo board - I am going to put a small window in the wall above the table so that I can have fresh air inside; 3) I am going to frame out an extendable bed along the driver's side wall, (will mostly be for one but, I will be able to pull it out and use the back cushion as a mattress for when I have a guest - also, under it will be room for the plastic 3 drawer Rubbermaid containers for clothes, towels, and whatever else I can store in them; and finally, 4) if there is room, I will build floor to ceiling shelves between the driver's seat and the bed.........this should allow me to use a bedside potty chair and have a couple of tray tables that can be used while sitting on the bed for eating, writing, using my laptop, and crafting.

I think I will still use the Reflectix on the side windows for privacy and get some black-out fabric and make a curtain to open/close behind the front seats for privacy as well.

Again, thank you for your suggestions and thoughts - if you have any more, I would love to hear them.
These are the diagrams of my plans - whether they will work or not is left to be seen - I have to get the van home and start doing measurements before I will know for sure.[attachment=2888]
Looks good except for the concept of getting 3 drawer storage totes under the bed.

To be able to sit up in bed you're going to have to keep the bed base about the same height as the top of the wheel well. That will be somewhere in the range of 10 or 12" off the floor. How high you can put the bed will depend on which mini-van you have. If it's an Astro/Safari you have lots of headroom, any of the others - not so much.

About the only 3 drawer units I've seen that will fit in a 10 or 12" space would hold note paper and pens, certainly not any amount of clothing or supplies. All the totes will also have to be different depths to accommodate the space taken up by the wheel well.

The other thing you might want to rethink is the placement of the pottie. Most people sleep with their head at the back of the van when they are laying lengthwise. Where you've got the pottie place is right beside your head if you do this. While a well maintained pottie is  not exceptionally odiferous you might want to distance yourself from it somewhat. Maybe move the pottie to the foot of the bed and put a set of storage totes where you currently have the pottie.
Here is a friends Astro conversion. You can see the bed is high enough to fit two drawers underneath. She got tired of hitting her head and cut the legs down to only fit one. 

I think the back wall is a good idea but I'm not sure you will have enough space. The Astro is fairly short and her bed went right to the door. You could make the front unit 6 inches narrower and put that 6 inches in the back wall. Or, maybe you have a longer van and can do both. Until you actually measure it, it's all speculation. She has a slide out drawer she uses her butane stove on to cook. See the whole post here:

http://www.cheaprvliving.com/converting-astro-mini-van/
Bob


[Image: bed-done.jpg]
Thank you, Bob. The three drawer containers I am looking at are 26" tall - like you said - until I start measuring, I can only picture it in my head........I am seriously believing it was your friend's picture that caught my eye and mind to do it that way. Big Grin
Most mini vans I've seen only have about 18" maximum length on one end of the bed or the other, but not both.

Like a fine wine, your plans are improving with age Smile