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Old 09-25-2018, 12:30 PM   #1
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Too Many Windows

Hi folks. My name is Monte and I am the proud new owner of a 2004 Shaffer converted 4wd E 350. It has the SMB Penthouse, all Aluminess everything, complete electronics, and all installations were done meticulously professional. Oddly there was never any interior buildout except for a platform bed across the wheel wells and interior is where I have begun to place my efforts for this ongoing project. This van was built as a passenger type and it has full windows on all sides with the only break being the support column at the doors and on the drivers side and this is presenting the dilemma I need help with. Although this is my first 4wd van I have owned a converted hightop 1977 Chevy G20 2wd for 12 years and I like the way it is equipped with a propane system and a 3 way Dometic fridge. It needs exterior access and venting for both safety and heat control and and the windows are a huge impediment. The louvered exterior access door is simple enough (although cutting into the sheet metal will take a serious act of faith) but what happens above that has me stumped. The height of the refrigerator will take it above the lower edge of any window and even with the use of 12 volt fans the vent (in my experience) has to be above the coils. So do I break a horn of the dilemma by removing a window and are there fiberglass bolt in replacement panels available? If I cover a window from the inside I can build a plenum but then I have to vent through the very narrow roof support structure above the window and below the edge of the Penthouse. Another thought is locating the fridge centered on the driver side support column and use that for the vent tube (again with fan assist). As I am committed to the propane fridge and spend days in the Sierra in one spot climbing and don't want a generator to go straight 12 volt (solar panel is not enough) how do I best approach this. I am amazed at the combined knowledge and experience of this forum and have full belief that the guru denizens found here can help. Thanks

PS I have spent some time mucking around for past postings on this topic but have been unsuccessful. I apologize up front if they exist.
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:43 PM   #2
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Garage
You might find this discussion useful:
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ons-22333.html
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:37 PM   #3
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Monte: Consider breaking your posts into paragraphs...you'll likely get more responses as your text is challenging to read in one go.......
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:12 PM   #4
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Thanks ORV. That discussion led me to OPT Overland who seems to have precisely what I need. So 2 weeks of indecision is over and I can get to work on my build. And advice to be heeded Boywonder. In partial defense of my endless verbosity, I'm a retired engineer. Enough said?
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:46 PM   #5
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Personally, I'm not a fan of cutting large holes in vans. We have run 12v fridges in several vehicles, and our current van has solar that keeps the beer cold indefinitely. We had a dometic three way in our last boat, and while I loved it at first, it required expensive repairs three times (one control board, one front panel, and a new cooling unit) When the cooling unit failed, it flooded the master stateroom with ammonia while the wife was asleep, talk about a rude awaking! Still, it sounds like you have had good experiences with one before, and you will probably again. There are likely thousands of propane absorption units in RV's , but anything that has the potential to emit carbon monoxide or ammonia into my van is pretty scary as it already happened to me once. Personally, I'd avoid cutting any holes and go 12v. Best of luck.
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:18 PM   #6
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^^THIS^^

First of all, welcome! Second, the three way fridge is dead. The 12v options are amazing these days. More robust, more room inside, less finicky and less cost than a 3-way. You can get a nice one in the $500 range. If you have a couple of house batteries you will be fine for a few days at a time off grid. That's what most of us here have done.

Lots of info on it but ask away!

Howbout some pictures of this unique rig?

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Old 09-25-2018, 09:06 PM   #7
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Yup, I gotta agree,
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Old 09-26-2018, 07:18 AM   #8
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Yo Montego! Welcome aboard. Get a new frig and don’t start cutting up your van. Instead get a 12 v ASAP then GET OUT IN THE WOODS TO CAMP AND CLIMB!
Mike and Granny.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:34 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forum. The collective knowledge here is amazing. And you are likely to get too many ideas how to spend your money .... and opinions.


There is a way to do what your asking.... I did it.


I wanted the 3 way fridge in my rig, for a number of reasons. My parents had a Class C Motorhome growing up, and I (still) have a 76 Vw Campmobile, so I was already comfortable with wanting propane on board. I wanted a propex heater, a cook top and 3 way fridge because they were a proven technology. Not much in the way of advances for thirty years . I liked how efficient they were, since I wasn't going to have a lot of roof for solar, or space for battery banks. Getting them in a small van was a challenge.



Yes I had to remove some windows. I chose to fill in the empty spaces with sheet metal, and a smaller window. It takes mad skills to cut & weld body work & paint. So it is not for the faint of heart.





I like your idea of installing a fiberglass panel instead of your window. I might have done that if I didn't work at a body shop at the time. You could probably find one at a pick & pull place that had a wrecked truck with a tonneau cover. If I were to do it again, I probably would go that route.



Somewhere I saw a Class B with a window with a louver in it for a fridge, but can't seem to find the conversion company that made it.



Anyway I'm happy with my very large fridge, with a freezer. I can have it on high for two or three weeks without having to refill the propane. And I don't have to worry about battery banks needing sunlight or shore power to recharge it. Yes the ammonia can leak, but there are literally millions of 3 way fridges on the road in motorhomes. And eventually everything will need maintenance. Did I mention how quiet it is?



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Old 09-26-2018, 09:26 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=wadewaydo
Anyway I'm happy with my very large fridge, with a freezer. I can have it on high for two or three weeks without having to refill the propane. And I don't have to worry about battery banks needing sunlight or shore power to recharge it. Yes the ammonia can leak, but there are literally millions of 3 way fridges on the road in motorhomes. And eventually everything will need maintenance. Did I mention how quiet it is? [/QUOTE]

I completely agree with you, ours ran for weeks at a time on one fill of propane, and was silent unless it was lighting. Still, ours leaked and what became clear after the fact is that they need to be level any time they are burning propane, and boats are rarely perfectly level. When they are out of level, the flame impinges on areas of the cooling unit that it shouldn't, and eventually burns through the tubing, releasing ammonia. When it happened to us, it almost did in my wife So, keep it level, and turn off the propane when your moving and it should operate just fine.
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