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The What and The Why of Van conversions, Part Two

Updated: May 5, 2021

I guess I should state the obvious... First you need a van... What van? Your choices are only limited by you and the market. We have a high roof 2017 Sprinter 4x4. My mom chose a Ford Transit. Ours takes diesel and DEF, hers takes gas. We have differing plans for our travels so we feel good about our choices.

In the previous post I mentioned we did not include plumbing. Let me clarify. We absolutely did not want to have large water tanks to deal with. Black water tanks completely gross me out and I'm really not keen on gray water. Having that mindset, we needed a way to brush our teeth, wash our hands and make coffee. I really did want a shower but Darin did not, so we compromised. This is our original sink setup.

Our kitchen and bathroom setup is very simple. We like to apply the K.I.S.S. method as often as possible. Therefore, we installed a sink in our countertop, attached a 12v pump and 2 five gallon water jugs. One is gray for gray waste water and the other is blue for fresh water. This will also be the plan for my mom's Ford Transit van conversion when we get her out here. Very simple concept, fill the blue jug, when it is empty the gray jug is full. So, empty the gray jug and refill the blue jug. K.I.S.S. There has only been one issue with this process so far - slime. Yes, slime! We took a trip to Texas... While visiting my son we needed to empty the gray and fill the blue. The hose in the blue was covered in slime! Gross! We sanitized the jug and the hose and put a teaspoon of bleach in the water jug before we refilled it. Yes, I could taste the bleach. So moving forward, we now just wipe the water hose that goes in the blue jug with bleach and it stays clean and slime free. I can only imagine what the process may be for the large 20 gallon tanks of "fresh" water. I am aware that there are tablets that prevent this issue... but what does that taste like?

Refrigerators are a luxury and a necessity. There are many choices. The chest style makes sense to me for efficiency and space management. They can be on drawers and or boxed over for added seating. Dometic is a well known brand and has a price tag that is above my pay-grade. I would truly love to have one but this is also a time we decided to choose a lesser known, less expensive option. Our neighbor got an IceCo and just raved about it so we decided to give them a try. The one we chose keeps things frozen in the bottom and cold on top. This solved the ice cream dilemma and fit in the space we allotted . The Ford Transit conversion is getting a dual zone IceCo, 2 lids for the the different zones. Placement is also something to think about. Ours is against the driver side wall. For my mom's (Ford Transit) we're planning to place it right at the slider for ease when loading groceries.

As far as sinks go, depends on your counter space. There are some cool options and ideas out there. Some folks punch a hole in a stainless bowl, I found the perfect sink buried deep in my dad's garage. It cleaned up nicely and works great. Amazon has plenty to choose from.

Coffee is a focal point for our van. We don't drink alcohol anymore but we do enjoy a great cup of coffee. We prefer a light to medium roast and we like fresh ground. I have a coffee subscription but often times we have to buy coffee while on the road. That can be tricky and disappointing. Anyway, the coffee prep is vital for a smooth start to our day. Our Solar Generator from InergyTek is absolutely amazing and can handle our Breville bean grinder and electric goose neck kettle. We started out with an espresso machine in the van but ultimately gave way to an insulated French Press.

Other reasons for a van conversion vs an RV is convenience. The van is a daily driver and has decent fuel mileage. We can basically stop almost anywhere to rest for the night or to explore a downtown area or visit National and State parks. No slide outs to deal with, no towing, easy get up and go options. We built everything ourselves so if there is an issue, we would be able to fix it. If we don't like a certain setup - we can change part or all. We fit in a standard parking spot. Urban camping in NYC, San Francisco and Seattle have been without issue. Rural back roads - also no issue. Fancy campgrounds, no issue. Speaking of fancy campgrounds, we decided to join Thousand Trails. We purchased the camping pass and all the zones. We have unlimited day use which provides us with a safe place to pull in and shower or rest if needed. Lots of folks complain about difficulties with getting reservations. We don't stay put for long so we have had no issues there.

Oh, one more thing before I close... Your van, RV, car or spare vehicle can earn you money. Check out RV Share and Turo for starters.

Our next post will be about our first 2021 coast to coast trip we recently took. It was a heart wrenching yet wonderful trip that needs to be discussed. After that will come the start of the Ford Transit Conversion and more travels.


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