REQUIREMENTS

  • The Ford Transit should be comfortable and be desirable to live-in for an extended period
  • Stealth (not so RV-looking from outside, discrete)
  • Dedicated cargo, sleep, kitchen and “living room” areas.
  • Many, many storage compartments to keep things at their respective places.
  • Stove, oven, running water & sink, refrigerator.
  • Sport gear (mountain bikes, snowboards, etc) stored inside.
  • No need to “winterize” (simple & accessible plumbing)

 

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COMPLETE INTERIOR LAYOUT

The entire layout was modeled through CAD software. This allowed us to optimized every cubic inch in the Ford Transit for optimal living space vs storage. It also served to make this whole project more “real” at a point where a LOT of time was spent thinking, reading, talking, but still no material (or Transit) was acquired! We didn’t want to “waste” time by building a 3D CAD model, but in the end we’re glad we did it because it forced us to fore think most of the details and push our layout design to a point were it could not have otherwise.

The complete 3D CAD model is accessible here.

 

ADDING WINDOWS OR NOT?

The wait is finally over: since April 2017, there are high-quality aftermarket windows available from C.R. Lawrence for the Ford Transit. This manufacturer has earned a very good reputation among DIY people and outfitters as well; they’ve been making windows for the Sprinter and other vans for a long time. So, windows or not?

PROS

  • Reduce blind spot while driving (especially on passenger side)
  • Increase ventilation
  • See the outside world while parked…

CONS

  • Windows are the worst for thermal insulation
  • Reduce storage capacity (especially on driver side)

The Ford Transit (medium & high-roof only) C.R. Lawrence window can be purchased from Amazon:

CRL Ford Transit Passenger Side

Passenger Side. Buy from Amazon.

CRL Ford Transit Driver Side

Driver Side. Buy from Amazon.

 

The Mercedes Sprinter windows are available as well on Amazon.com

 

BEDROOM AREA

We want our mountain bikes to be stored inside the van, so we already know our bed will be fixed above the cargo area. This arrangement is inspired by Traipsing About Sprinter Van:

Traipsing About Adventure Sprinter Van

Traipsing About Adventure Sprinter Van

To increase storage, we will use a 54″ wide double-size mattress bed. The van is approximately 65″ wide so that leave us about 10-12 inches for storage cabinet. We like the Sprinter Van Diaries layout:

Sprinter Van Diaries bedside cabinets

Sprinter Van Diaries bedside cabinets

KITCHEN AREA

REFRIGERATOR

Three-Way (Propane/120V/12V)

Unfortunately, three-way refrigerators are not very efficient in DC mode and therefore drain a lot of battery. They also must be level to work. We will carry propane tank, but since we don’t want an external tank we will have to unplug it when driving. No-Go.

DC only (12V)

12V refrigerators using sealed compressor (Danfoss) are the most efficient and can operate up to 30 degrees angle. AC/DC option is often available as an option (the 120V option includes a built-in inverter, so the compressor is still using 12V), but since we don’t plan to be shored often we don’t see the advantage here; when shored our battery charger will keep our battery bank loaded.

Top Loading

Top loading is more energy efficient (there is less loss when opening the door), but we are not Tetris fans.

Engel MT80-U1 Top Loading Cooler

Engel 84 QT Top Loading Refrigerator (MT80-U1). Buy from Amazon.

Front Loading

A tiny-bit less efficient, but WAY more efficient to retrieve things from the fridge.

 

RM2351L-Open

Dometic Americana 5 cubic feet 2-way (RM2551). Buy from eBay

 

RANGE

Since we plan on having extended stays in the van, we decided an oven would make the trip more enjoyable. We first looked for separate oven / camping stove so we could take the camping stove away when not using it (for more counter space) or to bring it outside, but it seems that oven-only unit are not easy to find. So a range it will be.

Atwood and Suburban seems like well established brands.

Atwood Vision Range Piezo 17in

Atwood Vision Propane Range 17″ with Piezo Ignitor. Buy from Amazon.

 

Suburban 3206A Gas Range 17in

Suburban Propane range 17″ (3206A). Buy from Amazon.

 

Camp Chef also make one, except it is portable. This could be nice for picnics!

Camp Chef Outdoor Stove Oven

Camp Chef Outdoor Propane Oven. Buy from Amazon

 

WATER SYSTEM
PUMP

We hesitated between a hand pump or a 12V pump. The hand pump would fulfill the simplicity requirement; the 12V pump would be more convenient to use and allow us to have an exterior hose to clean the bikes. Both systems must be winterized, therefore an alternate solution must be find for sub-freezing temperatures.

Water Hand Pump

Water Hand Pump. Buy on Amazon

 

Water 12V Pump

Water 12V Pump. Buy on Amazon

ACCUMULATOR TANK

An accumulator tank is not mandatory, since some 12V diaphragm pumps are built to reduce water pulse. However, many people reported that a accumulator tank will still improve the system by reducing pump cycling and smooth water faucet pulse. So it seems like a small investment for the benefit.

Water Accumulator Tank

SHURflo 182-200 Pre-Pressurized Accumulator Tank. Buy on Amazon

 

SINK

We looked around and just fell in love with this sink. That will be it.

Dometic VA7306AC Sink

Dometic VA7306AC Sink. Buy from Amazon.

 

 

WATER HEATER

 

Water Heater Eccotemp L5

Eccotemp L5. Buy from Amazon.

 

PROS

      • Cheap
      • Integrated to water system

CONS

      • Portability

 

RESSOURCES:

 

Mr Heater BOSS XCW20

Tankless propane water heater. Good reviews as well. We like it because it is a stand-alone system (it has it’s own water pump, integrated battery & it can hold a small propane tank, making it very portable) and it is quite powerfull.

Mr Heater BOSS XCW20

Mr Heater BOSS XCW20. Buy on Amazon

PROS

      • Stand-alone system
      • Very portable
      • Powerfull

CONS

      • More expensive
      • Not sure about spare parts avaibility

 

RESSOURCES:

 

Isotemp Water Heater

4 to 11 gallons tank 110V water heater. The idea here is that the water is heated while driving and will stay hot for many hours since the tank is insulated.

Isotemp Spa Water Heater

Isotemp Spa Water Heater

PROS

      • Hot water is available without delay
      • 750W (most units are 1500W and therefore require a more powerful inverter)
      • Polypropylene insulated

CONS

      • More expensive
      • Use 110V

 

RESSOURCES:

 

LIVING ROOM AREA

Toilet

We decided a toilet would make long-term travel MUCH enjoyable. The solutions we considered are:

Composting Toilet

We like the composting toilet a LOT. The idea that our poop will be turned into dirt is quite attractive.

Natures Head Composting Toilet

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. Buy from Amazon.

 

PROS

      • No need to manage black water tank
      • Solid can be put in a bag and disposed in any dumpster (yes it is legal by law!)
      • No smell. That’s right! Since the liquid and solids are separated and because of the small exhaust fan, there is no smell!
      • To be emptied approximately every month (depending on how bad are your dumping habits)

CONS

      • More expensive
      • In winter, composting action is reduced

 

RESSOURCES:

 

Porta Potti
Porty Potti RV toilet

Porta Potti. Buy from Amazon.

 

RESSOURCES:

 

Dometic Cassette Portable Toilet
Dometic Portable Toilet

Dometic Portable Toilet. Buy from Amazon.

RESSOURCES:

 

CARGO AREA

Wait for it!

 

OUTDOORING

Wait for it!

 
 

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