When I converted my first van, I decided to start a site to document the process in hopes that I could contribute some knowledge back to the van building community that I relied so heavily upon.
Below, you will find my work-in-progress build log for my 2004 Mercedes Sprinter conversion. Soon, I will begin writing about my second conversion — a 2015 Ford Transit. I will also begin writing some more generic pieces on component selection, product reviews, etc.
About this page (extended edition)
Over the past couple years, I've built two camper van conversions: one Mercedes Sprinter and one Ford Transit. Along the way, I've done a great deal of research and learned a lot. I decided to contribute that knowledge back to the van building community by creating this page.
Initially, this page was going to be a complete build log of my first van — a 2004 Mercedes Sprinter. I completed several posts, but slowed down as life got busy.
After about a year and a half of traveling and part time living in that van, I decided to sell it and build something a little more modern. Thus, in September of 2016, it sold and I immediately purchaced a 2015 Ford Transit.
The next two months were spent completing the second build and juggling my day job. As time has allowed, I've been thinking about a plan for this site.
Alas, the new plan! I will try to finish documenting the first build with the photos and notes I took. However, I don't plan to do a complete build log of the second build. I figure, by now, the internet is full of build logs of all degrees.
Instead, I would like to write a little more specifically about the components I chose, why I chose them and how they've performed. I think this will be a valuable contribution to the community as I found component selection to be one of the more time consuming processes. I may also discuss various building techniques I found to work well. And finally, I would like to put together mini shopping lists for people to use for various parts of the build (eg. X sink, Y faucet, Z fittings).
I think, together, this would be a huge help to some people who find themselves a bit lots (as I did) when starting a build.
Prepare yourself, because my bed-building process winds a path through experimentation. I clock in at around 5‘9” tall. If I owned a NCV3 Sprinter van, I would orient my bed cross-ways, no question. However, since I owned an older T1N van, my height is almost exactly the width I have to work with inside the van.
At the beginning of my search for a van, the average price tag on the Craigslist listing I saw left me pretty disenchanted with the idea. I expected the prices to be higher than your average Astro van, but seeing old, rusted out, 300k mileage vans still listed for $20,000 was a shock. Luckily, these price tags only reflects the sellers hopes and dreams, not necessarily reality.
Over the years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time traveling, camping and living off and on in the back of my 2001 Ford Escape. This has been my dream vehicle for over a decade now: it’s four wheel drive, seats four, sleeps two with room to spare and it’s beefy enough to tow a trailer. I’ve traveled in it for months at a time. With two people traveling long term, it’s tight and you can’t take much gear, but it’s doable without much fuss.