DIY Van Conversion Build Journal

Planning to build your own campervan / adventure van? Look no further: we detailed EVERYTHING about our DIY van conversion in this Build Journal: how-to’s, step-by-step guide, products, material, lessons learned, etc. We hope it gets you going!

For Sale!

We’re selling our Bogart Engineering Charge Controller (SC-2030), Monitor (TM-2030), Temperature sensor and Shunt. Includes all the wiring to connect to your system! 125$ shipped (value 300$ approx). Perfect working condition, no scratch or damage. Email us if interested (serious buyer only please).

PHASE I: VAN PREPARATION & BODY WORK

JUNE TO JULY 2016

1. LARGER TIRES UPGRADE

JUNE 2016

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.

BF Goodrich KO2 tire

1.1 Thule/Konig XG-12 Pro Snow Chains – Review

December 2017

We consider snow chains a safety device rather than a gizmo, so we splurged on a set of high-quality Thule / Konig XG-12 PRO snow chains. They’re simple to install and don’t require to move the vehicle during installation, nice!

1.2 MaxTrax Recovery Boards – Review

November 2017

Here we are. Our 8500 lbs home on wheel is stuck in sand. It’s dark and we’re not sure how we will get it back on the road…

2. FAN INSTALLATION

JUNE 2016

Do you have what it takes to convert a brand new van? This is the test right here. You just brought home a new shiny van and the first thing you do is make a big hole through the roof! There is no turning back now…

Maxxair Fan Installation

Bonus. Preventing a Leaking Roof

January 2018 (!)

Here’s the situation: there are a bunch of threaded holes on top of the Transit roof and, over time, the paint covering these threaded holes might crack resulting in leaking roof. Don’t panic! There is a quick and easy fix. Keep reading for more…

3. SOLAR PANELS INSTALLATION

JUNE 2016

Harvesting power from the sun feels a bit like cheating to us! Our autonomy and freedom depend a lot on it. If you say freedom, we say solar!

Solar Panels Installation

4. PASSENGER SWIVEL SEAT INSTALLATION

JUNE 2016

Space is a very precious & rare thing in a van. A swivel seat is a great way to create some space!

Van Conversion, Swivel Seat Installation (resized)

5. DRIVER SWIVEL SEAT INSTALLATION

MARCH 2017

The driver swivel installation requires to lower the e-brake, but it is still totally worth doing it!

Driver-Side-Swivel-Heading

Discountvantruck VS SwivelsRus Swivel Review

We installed them both and we are reviewing them here!

SwivelsRus-vs-Discountvantruck-Swivel-Adapter-Review

6. AWNING INSTALLATION

JULY 2016

If space is a rare & precious thing in a van, why not create some space outside?? An awning is not cheap, but we rather be outside. Rain or shine.

7. AIR HEATER INSTALLATION

7.1- WEBASTO AIR HEATER INSTALLATION

JULY 2016

Snow is awesome. Winter is awesome. We want to get some, but we don’t want to freeze to death. The Webasto Gasoline air heater provides a very nice source of heat. The heat is dry and will help keep moisture low in the van.

Van Conversion Webasto Air Heater, Final

7.1.1- WEBASTO NOISE REDUCTION

The Webasto/Espar air heaters are great, but they sound a bit like a jet is taking off beside your van. Here are a few tips/products to reduce the noise to an acceptable level.

7.1.2- WEBASTO/ESPAR HIGH ALTITUDES USAGE

The Webasto/Espar heaters are somewhat sensitive to oxygen level. An incomplete combustion resulting of a lack of oxygen will produce carbon deposit and could completely block the combustion chamber. Some adjustments are to be made if spending extended stays at above 5000 feet altitude.

7.1.3- How To Install a New Burner Following Carbon Buildup

The Webasto/Espar heaters are somewhat sensitive to oxygen level. An incomplete combustion resulting of a lack of oxygen will produce carbon deposit and could completely block the combustion chamber. Some adjustments are to be made if spending extended stays at above 5000 feet altitude.

Webasto-Air-Top-2000-Install-New-Burner-Carbon-Buildup---Heading-(500px)

7.2- PROPEX AIR HEATER INSTALLATION

DECEMBER 2017

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…

Propex-HS2000-Heater-Installation-Heading-(1200x627)
are-we-finished-yet
thing-started

Connect with other fellow DIY builders like you!

Having fun?

Please visit our “Say Thanks” page. Cheers!

PHASE II: INTERIOR LAYOUT

AUGUST 2016 TO MARCH 2017

CROSS NUT

Hint & Tip!

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!

Crossnut-Heading

8. FLOOR INSTALLATION

AUGUST 2016

A floor is a floor, there is not much to say here. Except, maybe, that we want the floor to be waterproof, insulated, low maintenance and nice.

9. THINSULATE INSTALLATION

AUGUST 2016

Welcome to the most controversial topic on van conversion! Thermal Insulation. There is no consensus here; choose your side!
(Hint: we’re on the Thinsulate side)

10. PLATFORM BED INSTALLATION

AUGUST 2016

There are a lot of creative way to make a bed layout. We just went functional and installed a raised, permanent, platform bed; this creates a lot of “garage” room and we need that a lot!

bed-installation-van-conversion-width-length

11. SLIDE-OUT BIKE RACK

AUGUST 2016

We won’t lie, this whole FarOutThing revolves, a lot, around the mountain bikes. They deserve a proper storage with a wow factor.

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-1

12. FRIDGE & ELECTRICAL CABINET

SEPTEMBER 2016

This was the first cabinet we built and the first opportunity to add some blue color in the van.

fridge-electrical-system-cabinet-600pix

12.1 FRIDGE Floor Vent

We denied the fact that the fridge requires proper ventilation in order to be efficient. We can definitely feel the heat behind the fridge just by placing our hand. Alright then, let’s make things right and add ventilation!

13. ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

Designing a 12V electrical system from scratch is not a simple task, we learnt that the hard way. In this post, we share everything we know and we explain how we went from nothing to a fully functional electrical system.

Electrical System

14. OVERHEAD STORAGE CABINET

NOVEMBER 2016

Neat storage is essential for sanity in small space. This cabinet should keeps us sane.

15. BEDROOM STORAGE

DECEMBER 2016

Again, we wanted to make sure we have plenty of mini-storage compartments. This is what we came up with.

16. SINK & STOVE CABINET

JANUARY 2017

This van is getting some love. It’s just been upgraded with a propane range and a sink! Yay!

17. WATER SYSTEM

APRIL 2017

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!

Water-Diagram-(Heading-1200px)

18. EZ-Cool Installation

APRIL 2017

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…

19. Wood Paneling Installation

May 2017

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.

Wood Paneling Final 2

20. Foam Blobs Makeover

May 2017

This is how we transformed the foam blobs of our Transit van. We decided that covering the foam blobs with fabric is safe. Will we die? Probably.

Foam-Blobs-Makeover

21. LED Ceiling Lights Installation / Review

May 2017

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…

Heading

22. Composting Toilet

JUNE 2017

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!

Composting-Toilet-Installation-Heading (500px)

23. PROPANE SYSTEM

July 2017

At Faroutride we play hard, but we play by the rules: we enclosed our propane tank in a sealed & vented propane locker. Read how we built the locker here and how we installed our complete propane system!

Propane-System-Heading

24. Upfitter Auxiliary Switches

July 2017

The Ford Transit can be ordered with the optional Upfitter Auxiliary Switches, but getting access to their output is a bit tricky. Fortunately, we made our homework and we’re guiding you through the process!

25. Air Lift Springs Kit Installation

July 2017

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!

AirLift-Video-Image Fallback

26. Mosquito Screens

July 2017

And here’s the only non-DIY part of our Transit van conversion: the mosquito screens. They’re almost too good to be true, so we did not bother making them!

Mosquito-Screens-Ford-Transit-Van-(Heading)

27. Radio Upgrade

August 2017

We upgraded the Ford Transit basic factory radio for a fancy Touchscreen/Bluetooth/WiFi/Bling-Bling 7″ Display Android Radio. Here is the install write-up!

Radio-Upgrade-Heading-1600

28. Speakers Upgrade

September 2017

After upgrading to an Android Radio Unit, the next smart move was to upgrade to JBL GT7-6C speakers system. Here is the full installation write-up!

29. Exterior Shower

August 2017

We LOVE riding our mountain bikes. It can only means two things:
1-We drink a lot of craft beer
2-We take a lot of showers.
Let’s focus on item #2 in here. This is our exterior shower setup.

30. Insulated Window Covers

August 2017

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!

31. Floor Vent

August 2017

We are adding a second floor vent to cool down our bedroom (and the whole van too)! It’s similar to the fridge vent except that we added a gate, an inline fan and a duct to route the air above the bed.

32. On Board Mountain Bike Tire Inflator

October 2017

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!

33. Garage

August 2017

There is no such thing as unused space! Organisation & functionality is the key here! In this article, we go through every details of our garage layout.

34. Campervan Must-Have Gear

An empty van is not a home! Here is a collection of campervan gear we researched and tested on the road full-time since August 2017. Check it out!

Campervan-Must-Have-Gear---Heading-(500px)
We're-done-yay

Be Our Guest!

Van-Tour-Heading

Phase III: Continuous Improvement

We can’t help it: we’re constantly thinking about how we could improve our setup!

Most of our thoughts are collected under “On Second Thought” section in each Build Journal entries. But below are some new findings we couldn’t fit somewhere else and we think are well worth mentioning.

Wait for it…

More coming soon!

Sketchy Clock

Reviews

Assurance médicale voyage

Assurance voyage médicale

Parlons d’assurance voyage médicale! Québécois et Canadiens voyageant à l’étranger, ça vous concerne: durée maximale du voyage, exceptions, sports dangereux, paperasse, etc.

Read more
Assurance médicale voyage

Travel Medical Insurance

We learned the hard way that accidents happen, like it or not. Travel medical insurance needs to be discussed; Canadians traveling abroad, read this first!

Read more
WeatherTech-Mud-Flap-Ford-Transit-Review-(Heading-1200px)

Ford Transit WeatherTech Mud Flaps – Review

Mud Flaps protect the fenders and exterior of the van from rocks, mud, road grime and other debris. We went on a mission to find the best mud flaps for our Ford Transit and we finally got the WeatherTech Mud Flaps for front (#11051) and rear (#120051).

Read more

16 comments

  1. Comment by Sarah

    Sarah Reply August 7, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for your van build journal! It has helped us immensely and we’ve used your links whenever applicable.
    One more question, could you tell us which curtain rod you used?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply August 7, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks, glad it’s helping!
      It’s a curtain rod we had at hour house… can’t find it online sorry 🙁

  2. Comment by Alan

    Alan Reply March 17, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing so much detail on your build. It has been great inspiration for our upcoming build. We are looking to purchase a 2018 Transit 250 High Roof with 3.31 limited slip differential and we aren’t sure which length we should get. Do you ever feel like the extended transit is too long? I understand that parking will be tougher and that is one downside, but are there any other downsides you can think of for having the longer version? Do you ever feel like it is hard to maneuver? We will end up driving ours through cities at times and will also be in a lot of National Parks Camping. Did you even take the shorter high roof version into consideration or were you always set on the extended version?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 18, 2018 at 11:45 am

      For full time living, we think the extended length is the way to go. But then we have our bikes inside, an oven, toilet, sink, fridge and a lot of gear…

      It’s not too hard to maneuver; you quickly get used to it. One downside is the long overhand behind the rear wheels: on off roads where there are steep departure angles, it can touch the ground.

      If you spend a lot of time in the cities, of course the shorter one would make it easier to park… we normally avoid cities so it’s not an issue for us.

      Sorry, we’re not really helping here, but it’s a very personal decision! It depends a lot what you plan on doing with the van!

      Good luck!

  3. Comment by Andrew

    Andrew Reply March 8, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Wonderful, informative site you have here! Which makes me wonder, how did you come up with all tje info you needed to put all of this together? What were your main information resources? Certain blogs, websites, or books? I want together supplement all the great stuff I’m learning from you, thanks!

  4. Comment by Cassidy

    Cassidy Reply February 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Hello,

    Thank you for your website… it has been very helpful during our van conversion. I noticed you guys are up in WA… looks like you are close to us. If you need a place to park you van for a few days we are located in East Wenatchee. We have a great ski resort (Mission Ridge) less than 30 mins from our house.
    I am interested in your lift hit you put on the van… I am assuming you ran into problems when trying to go off road? Does it really give you 3 extra inches of clearance?

    Thx

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply February 4, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Hi and thanks for the invitation 🙂

      The long overhang behind the rear wheels of the Extended-length Transit are a limiting factor. The lift kit raise the BACK OF THE VAN 3 inches (not the entire van), so that helps with steep departure angle. It also helps handling.

      Have a good one!

  5. Comment by tim

    tim Reply January 23, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    amazing as far as I can see, swivel seats are genius. one thing stuck out though, about the bike tyre inflation..i get your jokes all through the site but inflating with a track pump is dangerous? hmm..should I trust you guys ‘coz that’s one thing that is cray cray

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply January 24, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      In the full article, we mention we’re being sarcastic… I always forget sarcasm doesn’t match with internet 😉

      cheers!

  6. Comment by Cameron

    Cameron Reply November 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I would first like to say awesome website! The layout and how helpful everything is makes this a go to site. With that being said I was wondering what everyone thinks about tire choices. The stock tire on a Ford Transit is the Dynapro HT 235/65r16 LR C its max load is about 3200lbs, while the BFG KO2 (amazing tire by the way) 225/75r16 LR E has a max load of only 2700lbs even with it being a 10ply tire. So that ends up being a difference of 500lbs a tire. I’m not saying the KO2 can’t handle the GVWR of 9000lbs, but if you start throwing in pulling a trailer you can quickly go over the max of the tire.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply November 19, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      Good point: if you plan on max out the payload on your Transit AND pull a trailer as well, choosing tires with higher load is probably a good idea. In our case, we don’t have a trailer so we’re good 🙂
      Thanks for your input!

      Good day!

  7. Comment by Robert

    Robert Reply May 7, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Just wanted to come back and say thanks.
    Though nothing like your elaborate and awesome build we have 98% completed ours
    and your site and an early e-mail to you spurred us on!
    If you ever get bored here is what we came up with…not bad for 60 year olds
    who knew abs. nothing about any of this converting stuff!
    http://www.stopitdown.com/category/promaster-campervan-conversion/

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply May 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Hi Robert,
      just went through your website.

      I must say that i really like your design! It’s clean and the colors give a nice touch!

      How does it feel to know that your almost done??

  8. Comment by Steve valentine

    Steve valentine Reply May 7, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Apologies for spellings – Dam predictive texts!

  9. Comment by Steve valentine

    Steve valentine Reply May 7, 2017 at 3:11 am

    Hi guys – steve from UK here, when I used to fit eberspacher(and we auto and bit if mikuni) professionally there are certain points I would note – thought perhaps I share them with you. The designs pecs – wiring etc were slightly different over here – we dealt with eberspacher direct and not espar which if h re all looked after the franchise hire over there. It seems to me couple of things ga you may have missed-so here goes – no offence intended. When you drop down the fuel rank – I found minimal is best don’t drop down more than you gave to. I sent your hole in the top where you propose to mount it – try and work out where the existing tank float is so as not to interfere with it. A point you missed-it with a hacksaw the standpipe you are inserting so it clears the bottom of the rank. The standard is to cut it at an angle (truncate) so it is easier for future to siphon out – of course clear off burs before you mount it. Make sure the inlet of the gas pipe clears they underside of the vehicle – all fuel runs gradual curves – nothing too tight. Another thing thar would be good would be to put in an emergency cut off in series to the fuel pump feed-this is a requirement in all UK psvs – good for private to in my opinion. See I g your pics I didn’t see evidence of small fuel clips that are prerequisite on the fuel Connections to make sure the unit is air tight. I could go in forever but just thought these few pointers. Espar o er there used to have download able I stalk manuals for us and Canadian regs. I used them couple of times as same over here we get charged for. Good luck and keep safe. STEVE Valentine Msaet. Airte, Amsterdam, Jib.

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