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Old 03-16-2014, 11:00 AM   #11
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 7
Re: Questions about my build...

also, regarding 'hanging out' time... i agree, pushing the dinette forward would defiantly help in that regard, but it makes a few things a bit more difficult-

The galley would be too far overlapping the side door if I were to keep the toilet/shower in the back and the large dinette in the middle, and I really want to keep that galley by the side door for ventilation, while keeping the largest dinette to accommodate as many people sitting/sleeping as possible.

Also, Moving the dinette forward will spread the walking space out more evenly, but a pocket of open space would be easier for my large dog to hop on and off the couch/bed at night for water.

with the plan posted above.. would the two captains chairs be isolated from those sitting on the dinette? I would imagine the bathroom being in the drivers line of sight when swiveling backward

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Old 03-16-2014, 11:14 AM   #12
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Posts: 465
Re: Questions about my build...

When we got the van (we are the second owners), I was concerned about the smell of the black water tank. Turns out, the guy we bought it from had put several tank deodorizers in it just before the sale, and had a bag full of unused ones in a cabinet. When the van warmed up, it was pretty bad, but not a poo smell, just way too much of a chemical/air freshener smell.

I flushed the black water tank, and dropped a single Thetford Campa Chem deodorizer down the potty. Added some water to the tank and let the deodorizer dissolve. I don't keep unused deodorizers in the van. Instead I just drop a new one in the tank just before a trip. I don't smell the black water tank or the deodorizers at all any more, even on a hot day.

If you keep a little water in the potty, and keep the P-traps full in the sink and shower drain, you shouldn't have an odor issue. During use of the potty, well...I don't know. Maybe eat less beans and cabbage?

As for the stove, just having it near a small window should work well enough to feed the flame with fresh air.

As for the desk, it might be tight on the driver's side. We have a flip-up on the stove, and when it's up, it makes a perfect desk for the passenger seat.

EDIT: I just measured the aisle of our dinette. From the base of the dinette, the aisle is 16.25". Between the bottom cushions, it measures 12". In the SMB plans, if each square of the light blue lines is 3", they show 18" between the cushions.

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Old 03-16-2014, 11:53 AM   #13
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 7
Re: Questions about my build...

you're the best! those measurements are definatly going to help me plan this.. time to break out the tape measure!

How about my lack of cabinetry?
The latest revision is concentrating only on the essentials of sleep, eat, and excrete, along with a tight shower before heading out.. but I had to nix the clothes hanging cabinet, and a few other storage cabinets to avoid getting cramped. I know the dinettes have storage in the seat.. and im thinking I can hang some clothes from the under-shelf compartment if it were totally necessary to keep an item from wrinkling.. but thats still not a lot of storage room for 3 men and a dog.

Will the galley and sink have much food storage capability?
And are a fridge and microwave options for the galley and sink I chose?
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:56 PM   #14
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 465
Re: Questions about my build...

Until I built the shelving unit behind the driver's seat, we only had 3 cabinets:

Under the sink, most of the space is taken up by pipes and the 2.5 gallon water heater. I have enough room in there to put a shoebox-size plastic bin of bungies and tie-downs, bottles of Diesel Kleen and OptiLube, and a funnel.

Under the stove, that's where we keep dishes, pots, coffee press, cups, electric Coleman lantern, a small ammo box of walkie talkies and device chargers, first aid kit, another shoebox plastic bin, trash bags. It's an organized mess, so I could keep more in there than I do if I worked on it a bit.

I've seen some pictures of a fridge under the stove.

Bathroom cabinet: only about 8" deep. I keep my shaving kit, toilet paper, kleenex and towels in there. The bottom shelf lifts out, but I don't keep anything down in there yet.

We put our clothes in small duffel bags and put them wherever they fit while driving.

Behind the dinette back cushions, we keep 2 sleeping bags, 2 blankets, 2 collapsible chairs, an Endless Breeze fan. Extra coats or jackets can cram in there, too.

Under the dinette seat bottoms, most of the space is taken up by the wheel wells and system stuff:

Driver side: 2 batteries, inverter, fuse boxes, hydrogen vents for the batteries, and the Ford jack, lug wrench and extension rod. Around all this stuff, I keep a soft-sided tool bag, 2 posts for the dinette table (a short post to use when we have the table set up outside on legs), some poles for the PH corners, a 6x8' tarp, duct tape, and a medium box of fuses. The dinette tabletop stores on edge between the toilet wall and the left rear door.

Passenger side: 16 gal fresh water tank, water pump, and furnace. On top of the furnace housing, I keep the black water drain hose (small, like a garden hose, since we have a Macerator), a freshwater fill hose, and funnels. Not much room for other things.

We have a microwave, which we keep paper towels in when not in use. The fridge is below that. The top and bottom are taken up by the A/C vents, CO detector, and the compressor.

I built the shelf unit to keep camera bags and a plastic bin for dry foods. The top is a tray that we plan to use to hold maps and hats. We find it's easier to use a bin and look down into it rather than use the cupboard under the stove for food. I have to get down on my hands and knees to root around in there to find things.

There are also bins in the barn doors for storage, though they aren't big. Some people make those a liquour cabinet.
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Old 03-16-2014, 09:13 PM   #15
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Re: Questions about my build...

I may have missed this, but is there a concern for the proximity between the front seats and passenger area since you will typically be traveling as a party of 3? If you are doing more 'camping' than driving it may be a non-issue, but it is certainly another element to consider.
2009 Express AWD, CCV Top & 50-ish home build. Daily driver/camper/kid hauler
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:59 AM   #16
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Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
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Re: Questions about my build...

I thought I read somewhere that SMB only installs toilets in the back.
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:24 AM   #17
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Location: Washington - Ridgefield
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Re: Questions about my build...

They will put a toilet wherever, within the constraints, wheelwells, fuel filler, doors, etc.

A couple of standard plans have forward toilets - RB15, EB22.

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Old 03-17-2014, 02:06 PM   #18
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Location: East Bay CA
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Re: Questions about my build...

The couple of extra feet of an EB over an RB is probably not going to matter much except off road in areas where angle of departure is an issue, and can usually be worked around. The big problem with a van is visibility when parking. Delivery companies, contractors, etc etc all use these in cities all the time; not as easy to park as some, but not a big deal for most drivers.

I don't really know what you're after in terms of stealth. You can fit out your 4x4 options with minimal lift, smaller tires and wheels, zero aftermarket bumpers or other add-ons, etc. Sorta form over function, but it can be done. Only a gearhead would be able to spot that it's 4x4.

Three people and a wet dog after 3 days in freezing rain are what you should envision when planning this, all with dripping clothes. When you go to three people the van design becomes way more tricky, unless the third is a kid. They go in storage

Riding as a passenger on a side saddle gaucho is possible, but rather horrible. Some of my passengers can't hack it and get nauseous, at one extreme. If they are over 5-10, they usually have to slouch, since the backrest is kinda tilted, and they hit their head on the valence above. No one would want to be there in an accident. And if the gaucho is in the back, where you last had it, they are very much isolated from driver and passenger. Maybe your point, but not universally loved.

Depending on your gaucho, it can be slept in longitudinally; they used to have a small padded board on a shelf to extend it. I can sleep lengthwise on it, and I'm 6-2. Narrow though; two people have to be real friendly to share it. And nothing can be done with it deployed as a bed; it's difficult even for the penthouse dwellers to get out. The two across you have would work better at least in that regard, although then you're limited to the width of the interior of the van.

Having sink and the rest of the galley separated can work, but remember that covering the sink allows it use for prep work, placing pans, etc.

Think of sight lines. It would be a very awkward situation for people in the front seats to communicate with someone in the back. As a practical matter a full height installation behind the driver blocks a lot of that person's view. Not too social.

You asked about TV screens. I would never, ever sacrifice a window permanently for a TV screen. Those windows make the van livable, and a permanent TV would really intrude. You will probably find a way to mount something after everything more important is built in the van. Get a mount from Monoprice and go nuts. Something you can stow or move around depending on who is inside and where is nice. And you often don't need that big a screen if you use it close to the viewers.

I really don't like toilet/showers inside the van, although for many others it's mandatory. Most folks put it in the back, and aside from the out of sight rationale, it is also easy to access from the rear. Meaning it doubles as wet room, dog washer, storage for messier things, etc. And it fills all the vertical space; if it's at the back and your gauchos more forward it's gonna feel much more open to the guests. Too bad the SMB template isn't in 3d; I think you'd see the difference. And having the galley near or even blocking part of the side doors isn't bad. Most of us don't even open both side doors all the time and you certainly don't need to for egress. And with it there cooking odors, smoke, etc can go right out, and since many of us cook/eat both in and outside again it gives quick access to the salt you forgot or the pans for washing or whatever.

2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
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