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The Sprinter and Transit conversions have some different methods used than those normally applied in a conversion.  This list is about the things that were done different than normal RV conversions.  The items listed are things I had not seen done before.  Maybe they are not all original but they are methods I had not seen before.

I was concerned with charging the house battery directly from the Sprinter with an Automatic Charge Relay for two reasons.  Did not want to connect to the Sprinter electrical because I had read that the Sprinter electrical was not very robust so did not want to risk connecting directly.  Also had read that two different batteries should not be charged together.  If they are charged together, then it is recommended that both batteries be the same size, same manufacturer, same type and even the same manufacture date.  For maximum house battery life the battery should be charged with a 3 stage charge profile (bulk, absorb, float) that matches the battery requirements.  So I came up with the idea of powering a pure sine inverter with the vehicle 12 volt system and using that output to power the 3 stage shore power charger.  Not as efficient but house battery is always charged correctly either by the shore power charger or the solar controller.  For more information go to build pages/electrical/vehicle inverter.

Did not want a pressure shower water tank, plumbing or hot/cold water mixing.  I have 120 volt AC power available from three sources (shore, vehicle powered inverter, house inverter) so decided to heat the water with 120 volt AC power.  In Sprinter I used a 5 gallon SS beer keg.  Bought a RV propane heater conversion kit to allow water to be heated with 120 volt power instead of propane.  Put a 12 volt DC submergible in the tank to get the water out to a hose/nozzle.  All the water in the tank is at the correct temperature.  Inexpensive solution.  For more information go to build pages/water system/shower water system.
The above system is still installed but a better solution was developed later.  A Sous Vide 750 watt cooking water heater is a perfect tool to be used for heating shower water.  Everything required is included in the water Sous Vide heater.  Has heating element, circulator, thermostat and simple programming.  Heat 3 gallons of water from 61 degrees to 95 degrees in 20 minutes and uses about 15 amp-hrs of house battery capacity.  Alternately the heater can be powered by the vehicle powered inverter with engine running or shore power to eliminate the use of the house battery. The system is installed in an Igloo plastic cooler. A submersible pump is used to get the water out to a garden hose/nozzle.

Using extrusions for the cabinets works very well in a conversion.  Attractive cabinets can be built without being a skilled woodworker.  Not inexpensive but does make the construction easier.  If you cut the extrusions to length and use simple fabricated connectors the cost can be reduced.  For more information go to home/using 80/20  and build pages/cabinets.

The normal method of wiring a conversion is to put conduits in the walls and then pull individual wires through the conduits.  In order to simplify the electrical wiring I used "SO" cords.  "SO" cords are multiconductor cords with a rubber like covering.  Like extension cords.  They are available with two wires for DC and three wires for AC.  Instead of wiring in the walls I ran the cords inside or behind the cabinets.  Cords are much easier to route because they can be bent to a tighter radius.  For more information go to build pages/electrical/wiring.

Used baskets in the upper rear cabinets instead of doors.  Easier access and increased storage capacity.  Doors are heavier, cost more and get in the way when accessing the storage.  For more information go to build pages/cabinets/upper cabinets.

A conversion is different than a house.  A house drain connects directly to the sewer so requires a trap to seal off the connection.  A conversion has a tank.  If you connect the drain to the bottom of the tank instead of the top, a "trap" is created with the piping path.  Down and then up into the tank.  For more information go to build pages/water system/gray water system.

Wanted a bed platform that was easily removed to haul cargo and be adjusted to provide a table for two people during the day.  The four panels are hinged at the wall and fold down to sit on top of the table to create the bed platform.  Two back panels down for one person and all four down for two people.  For more information go to build pages/bed platform.

Did a lot of reading about passive solar before building our house and barn.  In a house you can cool the house using windows down low and openable windows at the peak of the ceiling.  Did that on both the house and the barn office.  Hot air rises so that creates a draft coming in the low windows and out the high windows.  Worked so well in the house and barn that I cut a hole in the van floor to get a cool air source and get air flow up and out the open roof vent without running the fan.  For more information go to build pages/floor vent.

Instead of a roof rack on outside for the solar panel, in the Transit conversion I put the rack inside the van.  Glued wood stringers between the van roof ribs to support the solar panel feet.  With one large panel instead of multiple small panels the installation is simpler.  For more information go to build pages/solar system.

Had a noisy large normal RV positive displacement water pump in the Sprinter.  Changed to a small centrifugal solar water pump in the Transit.  Wanted a quieter system and did not want the water system pressurized.  Pump installation requires about 1/4 the space and is quiet.  For more information go to build pages/water system/fresh water system.

Use a 12 volt DC 36" x 60" bunk heating pad to stay warm at night.  Heat the person and not the entire van interior.  For more information go to home/heat & cool.

In a small conversion the space for a shower can not be wasted for only shower use.  The shower enclosure in the Transit is used for the portapotti, storage, additional countertop and towel rack.  Items are removed to use portapotti or to take a shower.  For more information go to build pages/cabinets/shower cabinet.


An easy method of leveling the van at parking places is to make a scale model of the van.  A piece of wood that is 1/16 the size of the van tread and wheelbase can be used to determine how many Lynx blocks are needed to level the van.  A two way level is mounted on the piece of wood.  1/16" thick flat washers under the corners of the board to level it tells you how many 1" thick Lynx blocks are required.  For more information go to build pages/other/van leveling.

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