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  #1  
Old 12-21-2011, 07:37 PM
yawanur yawanur is offline
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Smile Step Van -> RV conversion

I'm a north american, and this continent is straight up built for automobiles, so I would like to explore. I've checked out RVs, pickups, vans, box trucks, buses etc and the best candidate I've found to live in is a Step Van aka the ups/fedex/ice cream/contractor truck-



The interior is something like 7' x 7' x14'-18' which is very livable. Diesel engines are very easy to find and last a long fucking time; fuel price isn't a bad deal for the space you get, something like 10-13 mpg. I've seen them used for about $5000

Most/all interior work from the last owner will be ripped out. Then frame structure for the interior, 2x2s to 2x4s. Insulate the gap, then drop down sheets of ply or masonite to cover the frame.

I would have an inverter running off the truck's motor, a battery bank, and possibly a mini generator. Minimal internal wiring [note: battery run lamps with LEDs]. Electric heat [heated floor?], electric stove, tiny electric fridge [ported to exterior for winter!]. I could definitely get by on 2 electrical outlets, a power strip will help run several low-watt devices.

A toilet would be key; I could definitely install/build one but I'm not sure how emptying the septic works?? At first I will always be living outside another house so it won't be a problem, but that has to happen. A shower is definitely possible, whether or not it's feasible on my budget remains to be seen. I've done a bit of research on living small and I've seen some great washrooms from tokyo that push the limits of small and would save me space.

I would have a bicycle + skateboard on board for local transportation. I was thinking of a bench seat in the front as well so I could roll around with like 4 people up there; more seat belts would be installed in the back to carry 8+ people.

So yeah, anyone else interested in living small?

Last edited by yawanur; 12-21-2011 at 07:54 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2011, 08:38 PM
121v312 121v312 is offline
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Default Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

You don't need to spend your money on plumbing for a toilet:
http://ibdcrohns.about.com/od/travel...tp/toilets.htm

As for the shower you could rig one of these porta-showers in the van:
http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=3401561

I don't know why you would buy one of those when you can get a 30' RV for just as cheap. I bought my RV a couple years ago for $800 and it is a 30 footer and could sleep 8 people comfortably with everything built in including a generator that could be run while driving. It needed work but nothing that was complicated. Generator had starting problems so we replaced fuel pump. Had minor electrical problems so we stripped what was bad and replaced. Easy and cheap. I recommend hopping on craigslist like I did. Good finds
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  #3  
Old 12-22-2011, 10:46 AM
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MediumD MediumD is offline
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Default Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by yawanur View Post
So yeah, anyone else interested in living small?
Hahaha, no. I'm a north american that makes significantly more than minimum wage.

But you're probably going to want an APU. And like the last guy said, you're probably going to want to think about purchasing an already made RV - they're cheap and 95% of the work is already done for you.

Also, a skateboard is not transportation, it's just meant to annoy your parents and downtown meter maids, just FYI.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:28 PM
yawanur yawanur is offline
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Smile Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by 121v312 View Post
You don't need to spend your money on plumbing for a toilet:
http://ibdcrohns.about.com/od/travel...tp/toilets.htm

As for the shower you could rig one of these porta-showers in the van:
http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=3401561
Thanks for the links! Those toilets don't look bad at all, not sure if I'll end up going with exactly such a product but that gave me some good inspiration... I'm thinking maybe set up my own seat with a compartment below that holds the bucket model, and a hatch on the side of the vehicle to remove it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 121v312 View Post
I don't know why you would buy one of those when you can get a 30' RV for just as cheap. I bought my RV a couple years ago for $800 and it is a 30 footer and could sleep 8 people comfortably with everything built in including a generator that could be run while driving. It needed work but nothing that was complicated. Generator had starting problems so we replaced fuel pump. Had minor electrical problems so we stripped what was bad and replaced. Easy and cheap. I recommend hopping on craigslist like I did. Good finds
I can see the advantage to an RV but I have a few reasons I would rather build my own-
-RVs interiors are built like houses so they are more familiar, aka wood cabinetry, table with a wraparound bench, etc. and such a design wastes an unreal amount of space. For example keeping clothes/food in a cabinet vs. keeping them in a mesh bag- a mesh bag collapses when you're not using it and virtually disappears. I would leave as much of the interior open as possible, just sit on the floor [chairs waste space]
-I'm studying design and enjoy building things, I have the tools and the know how to make it happen, not too mention plenty of raw material
-Step Vans are diesel trucks that run like tanks, with engine/trans replacement chassis can go a million miles. The interior is literally a giant square room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumD View Post
Hahaha, no. I'm a north american that makes significantly more than minimum wage.
How many hours a week do you work? I make 1.5x minimum right now but when I finish my degree I'll make a fuckton more... However I have no desire to work 40 hr weeks given the fact that I could drop dead at any second, so I will cut my living expenses by 75% living in a truck and spend as much time as possible adventuring/relaxing/playing. Have fun with your excessive hours and giant house, that life's not for me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumD View Post
But you're probably going to want an APU.
yeh my buddy has some tiny 2-3k genny's about the size of two briefcases, he said they run about $400, looks like a decent option. Not sure how much power I'll need haven't done the math, guessing around 2k running... either way I'm interested in a diesel genny to simplify fueling logistics. Know anything about tiny diesel generators?

Ideally I would run all of my power off the alternator in the truck, so I only have to carry around 1 ICE but truck motors/alternators are not tuned for efficiency like a generator so that's probably would cost me in the long run.

Battery banks could be useful but are pretty damn expensive so not sure if that's a viable option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumD View Post
Also, a skateboard is not transportation
It is when you have legs like I do! On my cruiser board with big fat wheels I can easily cover 5 miles in the time it would take to walk 1, especially riding bike lanes. Apparently you don't live in the city....

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gold:
http://www.brotherscott.org/stepvan3.htm

Last edited by yawanur; 12-22-2011 at 05:50 PM.
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  #5  
Old 12-23-2011, 10:04 AM
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MediumD MediumD is offline
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Default Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

Ah you took that better than I expected, youdidntgetmadbro. Since you asked, 40-60 depending on how much OT I feel like doing. My job is rather fun, so I don't mind OT.

Also, small diesel generators pretty damn hard to find...
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Last edited by MediumD; 12-23-2011 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

you could find a small portable 800-1200watt micro-generator from the harbor freight for less than $150.00, and could run it on brown's gas / HHO. the 4-6.5kw units would tax you on the gasoline side. there are micro diesels out there, but man are they pricey!99.9% will be 4Kw and up. i would think home made solar panels and a 12v battery bank would go a long way with LED lighting. what about a micro wind turbine. i have seen many small ones that are in the 500-900 watt range that are very simple to build. a hybred solar/wind and a battery bank /inverter system would make your life kinder. What are your plans for internet? maybe i high gain wifi antenna made from an old dish network dish and a usb wifi antenna and war driving? good luck to you, sounds like good times are ahead of you!
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  #7  
Old 12-28-2011, 10:37 PM
yawanur yawanur is offline
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Smile Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

OH SHIT

http://flickriver.com/photos/grumman...7615650626769/

^^^this is incredible!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumD View Post
40-60 depending on how much OT I feel like doing. My job is rather fun, so I don't mind OT.
yeah im jealous

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumD View Post
Also, small diesel generators pretty damn hard to find...
shit

Quote:
Originally Posted by part-time View Post
you could find a small portable 800-1200watt micro-generator from the harbor freight for less than $150.00, and could run it on brown's gas / HHO. the 4-6.5kw units would tax you on the gasoline side. there are micro diesels out there, but man are they pricey!99.9% will be 4Kw and up.
Hmm well 4Kw is probably going to be way more than I will use and cost me gas... is there anywhere I can get a tiny diesel motor to construct my own genset? Something in the 2k range would be perfect and even though a homebrew setup won't be as efficient, with a motor that much smaller I will be saving a fair amount of fuel no doubt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by part-time View Post
i would think home made solar panels and a 12v battery bank would go a long way with LED lighting. what about a micro wind turbine. i have seen many small ones that are in the 500-900 watt range that are very simple to build. a hybred solar/wind and a battery bank /inverter system would make your life kinder. What are your plans for internet? maybe i high gain wifi antenna made from an old dish network dish and a usb wifi antenna and war driving? good luck to you, sounds like good times are ahead of you!
I haven't really researched wind or solar but I'm definitely open to the idea. I know setting up the battery bank/controllers is semi-complex but it would be nice and quiet, and after I set it up operating costs are basically non existent. I have to figure out:
-cost of panels/lifespan
-cost of turbine/lifespan
-cost of batteries/lifespan
and size them to my needs. Alrighty got some research to do....
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:03 PM
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komokazi komokazi is offline
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Default Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

Also a buyers/creditors on MySpace are very unreliable. I'm going to turn this market on it's ear. In just one month, 50 million people lost their jobs.
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Old 12-29-2011, 04:36 PM
yawanur yawanur is offline
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Confused Re: Step Van -> RV conversion

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Also a buyers/creditors on MySpace are very unreliable. I'm going to turn this market on it's ear. In just one month, 50 million people lost their jobs.
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