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Old 03-04-2019, 10:52 AM   #1
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Best sources of info for DYI camper van conversion?

While the correct answer to virtually any question can be found on the internet, finding exactly where that answer is located can be a HUGE time-suck, and if one doesn't have a good base of knowledge to draw from, it can be challenging to determine which answer among the many conflicting answers is in fact the correct one.

With regards to DYI (do-it-yourself) van build outs and camper van conversions, clearly there's a vast amount of information out there--one could spend days and weeks on watching youtube videos alone! But I've come across lots of conflicting advice (Just a few examples--What's the best insulation material to use? Should you install a vapor barrier or not? Is installing sound deadening material underneath the floor actually that helpful?), and if one doesn't have a relevant experience, it's challenging to try and determine which answer is the correct one.

While this forum and others like it are a great resource to reach out to others for help and advice, the answers are not always easy to find. Has no one written a book or instruction manual, or created a website that logically and systematically discusses all the common challenges, topics, and materials everyone who is attempting to convert a van is going to have to consider and make a decision about?

Basically I'm looking for the "bible" or "wiki" of camper van conversions.
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Old 03-04-2019, 02:36 PM   #2
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This is a great resource that actually talks about all the areas and options one can consider.
Build Your Own Dream Camper Van | Sprinter RV
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Old 03-04-2019, 02:47 PM   #3
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I would tell you that you found it in this forum.



A lot of build threads, collective knowledge, there's a few guys whom have built several camper vans over the years, and are free with their information on this forum.



It' not as well organized as you might want, but it's peer reviewed, which adds value over a published book, that is usually written in a semi-vacuum.



You also need to realizes 80% of the SMB camper type folks are a pretty rugged individualist, not your typical 'following the crowd' sort of people.



When you say 'the best insulation', or the 'best flooring' and such, you may as well be asking a group of carpenters 'which is the best hammer', or a group of fabricator/welder types 'which is the best welder?'.


So, pull up a chair, get comfortable, read a build thread from page 1 to the end, then another one, and enjoy the journey.



or save up your money and just purchase a completed camper van :-)
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Old 03-04-2019, 05:06 PM   #4
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Expedition Portal is also a good resource, with home builds on just about any platform you can imagine. Although sometimes I think the folks there spend 95% of their time talking about building their ultimate rig and only 5% using it ;-)


https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:53 AM   #5
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This is a great resource that actually talks about all the areas and options one can consider.
Build Your Own Dream Camper Van | Sprinter RV
Thx for the link, I'll check it out. Guess a lot of the info & specs will be specific to a Sprinter....I've got an E350.
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:23 AM   #6
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I would tell you that you found it in this forum. A lot of build threads, collective knowledge, there's a few guys whom have built several camper vans over the years, and are free with their information on this forum.

It' not as well organized as you might want, but it's peer reviewed, which adds value over a published book, that is usually written in a semi-vacuum.

I don't disagree with anything you wrote Tom, and I'm aware of and appreciate the value of this forum and those that generously offer advice based upon their years of accumulated knowledge and experience. As you noted, I guess it's just not as organized as at least I'd prefer, i.e., the answers are all here, it's just a matter clicking thru endless pages of threads to find them. I've got other obligations & interests, and like everyone my time is limited, so if there were other more concise sources of info. I at least would find that helpful.


When you say 'the best insulation', or the 'best flooring' and such, you may as well be asking a group of carpenters 'which is the best hammer', or a group of fabricator/welder types 'which is the best welder?'.

I understand what you're saying and don't disagree, however I think it's only accurate up to a point. Perhaps instead of asking "What's the best insulation?" better worded questions would be "What's the best insulation for my specific circumstance (i.e., cold weather vs warm weather camping, or my specific budget, etc.) or "What are the 3-4 best ways to insulate a van?" Worded in that way I'm guessing that a generally agreed upon consensus would emerge from the collective wisdom of those on this forum. I can't tell you how many youtube videos I've seen where people are attempting to insulate their vehicle by attaching Reflectix DIRECTLY onto the inner walls and ceiling of their vans! To use your analogy, I bet virtually every expert here on this forum would advise against buying that hammer, or perhaps more accurately, inform me that that is the
wrong way to use that particular hammer!


So, pull up a chair, get comfortable, read a build thread from page 1 to the end, then another one, and enjoy the journey.

or save up your money and just purchase a completed camper van :-)
I think your last comment is likely the best option for me. However, I think it would prove to be extremely challenging to find a camper van which would meet my specific & unusual requirements. And unfortunately for me all the mainstream van conversion companies I've come across charge an arm and a leg for their products and services. I'm not saying they're not worth what they charge, just that they are outside of my budget. I think what I really need to find is someone who really enjoys the whole van conversion process, and who works on other people's vans as a side business / side-hustle in addition to their normal 9-5 job.
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:53 AM   #7
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A good build resource is YouTube. There are a ton of van build videos and while some are definitely better than others, you can get a lot of ideas.

A personal favorite is a series by Greg Virgoe. A bloke in the UK who built a nice looking Sprinter himself over a year or so, documenting what he did and why he did it over about a dozen videos. He's an engineer, so he is pretty good about explaining why he chose a particular option.
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:40 PM   #8
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Pinterest has a quite a few threads/pins on the DIY stuff and I've found Gnomadhome to be helpful. We recently bought a shell for our build but have have yet to begin construction. Good luck!


https://gnomadhome.com/build-your-van/
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Old 03-05-2019, 08:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Doug-D View Post
While the correct answer to virtually any question can be found on the internet, finding exactly where that answer is located can be a HUGE time-suck, and if one doesn't have a good base of knowledge to draw from, it can be challenging to determine which answer among the many conflicting answers is in fact the correct one.
Like everything else in life everyone's answer is conflicting with someone else's.

You've found a Pandora's box of primarily off-road, primarily Ford and primarily off-grid self sufficient zombie apocalypse type vans and fans on this site and I can tell you from experience most of us think and act alike, then you head over to the Expedition Portal van builds section and there is a totally different them, different vibe, different goals. Then head to the Ford Transit USA forum and everyone does it a totally different way than that. Sprinter source adds yet another dimension.

I've built 8 camper vans at this point and perhaps I've forgotten one or two. Some were SMB's and some were home builds. Does that make me knowledgable? No, mainly just a fan and tinkerer with a short attention span who worked nights for about 10 years.

You won't find it all in one place and different people's different ideas doesn't mean some are right or wrong. Use everything at your disposal. The almighty Google, The Pinterest, The Youtube, The Instagram, The Facebook (probably, I steer way clear), the forums. I can't name all of those, there are probably literally hundreds by now.

I can only guarantee you this: If you like 4x4, off grid, uber capable older mostly Ford vans then you're in the right place. Hang out here 3 months and you'll buy one. One year after that you'll have spent more on it than you ever thought......and everyone else's answer will then be wrong to you.

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Old 03-05-2019, 08:40 PM   #10
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Thx for the link, I'll check it out. Guess a lot of the info & specs will be specific to a Sprinter....I've got an E350.
Actually most of it can be applied to any make and model. It goes through all the various options at every stage of the build. Pros and cons of each. Really nothing sprinter specific.
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