Tempted by Vanlife? Looking for how to convert a van to a campervan? We obsessively documented EVERYTHING from our DIY campervan conversion process: how to's, products and material, tools, lessons learned, etc. Whether you are converting a Ford Transit, a Mercedes Sprinter or a Ram ProMaster, it's all good: our step-by-step directions should point you in the right path whatever the van you choose to convert. Happy campervan conversion!
In each GUIDE of this Build Journal, you'll find:
There are 3 options to find your way around here:
1- LARGER TIRES UPGRADE
First things first. We’re not off road enthusiasts, but we’re not roadies either. We need tires that can handle highway, off-road and snow as well. And we don’t mind the badass look too, because we’re such badass people. Whether you are converting a campervan or own a work van, this is something to consider.
9- PROPEX AIR HEATER INSTALLATION
Here is the situation: we’ve been 3 months on the road chasing the sun and in exactly 2 weeks, we take a major 180 degrees turn and drive north to chase the snow. We had issues with our Webasto that we think we fixed, but who knows if the issues will come back or not? The call of snow is way, way too strong. There is only one solution…
We don’t like drilling holes in our van as it could:
– attract rust on bare edges
– spread metal chips all over (almost impossible to remove and will attract rust)
– interfere with your van electronics (!)
Cross Nut is the solution! We prepared a fully detailed article about Cross Nut (choosing the right size, installation tips, etc). Check it out!
19- WATER SYSTEM
We hesitated to install a draft beer system in our DIY campervan conversion, but we finally installed a pressurized water system instead. This is the Water System Installation of our DIY campervan conversion. Materials, tools, cost and installation. Fully illustrated for your viewing pleasure!
20- EZ-COOL Van Insulation
We chose Thinsulate as our “main” thermal and noise insulation. To be effective, Thinsulate requires to be fully expanded: that’s almost 2 inches thick for SM600L Thinsulate. There are locations where we just don’t have that space (we rather keep that space as living area), so we installed EZ Cool…
21- WOOD PANELING INSTALLATION
Right from the start, we knew we wanted a rustic finish. It is fairly easy to obtain a nice & clean finish with the tongue and groove paneling: each plank will sit flush the the adjacent planks, creating a uniform & continuous surface. The planks are relatively thin at 5/16” thickness, making them flexible enough to conform to the van funky surfaces. We did not sand the planks, but we finished them with varnish to protect them against a spaghetti incident.
23- LED CEILING LIGHTS INSTALLATION / REVIEW
After a few trial-and-error we finally found what (we think) are the perfect recessed ceiling LED lights! The first LED we ordered were WAY too bright as the glass was clear instead of frosted. Even with a dimmer, the light was shocking for the eye. Then we stumbled on the Acegoo LED lights…
24- Nature's Head COMPOSTING TOILET
We plan on living full time for a year or two in the van. For a minimum of comfort (and convenience), we really wanted a toilet and after reading about composting toilets, it seamed like the perfect solution for us!
It’s honestly really easy to install and manage; there is no odor (that’s right!) and no black water to deal with. Sweeeeet!
27- AIR LIFT SPRINGS KIT INSTALLATION
The Air Lift Springs Kit allows our Ford Transit Campervan to gain approximately 3 inches overhang ground clearance, for light off-road expeditions! And with the on-board compressor and the wireless remote, we can adjust the air pressure in the springs on the fly! Neat!
32- INSULATED WINDOW COVERS
While curtains work for houses, we think insulated window covers are better for campervans. They are lightproof (for shade & privacy) and insulated (to keep us cool in summer, warm in winter). We’re obsessed with functionality and with the rare earth magnets all around the edges, they just “snap” to the van metal window contour. Easy breazy! Similar design should work for Transit, Sprinter or ProMaster.
34- ON BOARD MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRE INFLATOR
Seriously, who wants to inflate mountain bike tire with a floor pump? It’s OLD-SKOOL (do we really need to mention we’re being sarcastic?). Let’s make things right and install an on board tire inflator. We’ll be using the air compressor from our Air-Lift suspension system. Check it out!
36- Bike Repair Stand (Park Tool)
We’re pretty obsessed with our bikes and riding (almost) everyday means a LOT of maintenance and repairs. For the last two years we improvised repair stands with picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, bike racks, and other unrelated objects that are definitely not suited for the job. A repair stand is not absolutely necessary, but it makes mechanical sessions much more efficient and enjoyable! After holding back on this upgrade for the last two years, the time has come 🙂
WE'RE DONE, YAY!!
BE OUR GUEST:
Nice To Meet You.
Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!