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Adventuremobile Conversion (Dodge Ram 2500 Van)

campervan conversion Dodge Ram 2500

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#1 my_wild_dreams_


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 05:04 PM

Hello folks. I've recently finished up my van build and thought I would share it with you. I'm about to set off on it full time once I get rid of my home and my job over the next few weeks. I’m planning to travel around for however long I’d like to, hopefully more than 2 years. I expect I’ll mostly be in the western half of the U.S. I’d like to go down into Mexico and maybe Central America but I’m not sure whether I’ll actually do that.

I’ve been living in the van for about a month and a half while I wait around for my house sale to finish. (I moved into my van and left only staging furniture in my house to help it sell) 



For more detailed conversion information, you could find my thread over at CheapRVliving, username FALCON.

To just see all the conversion pictures, go on Flickr and search for "FALCON.MORDACAI" and select the "search people" dropdown.



I bought the van in May 2015. It had under 105,000 miles on it. I paid $3,200 for it from a motorcycle/atv dealer who took it as a trade in. The van had previously been used by someone with a boat company or just a boat. It appears they used it tow boats, and didn't really do much of anything in the back of the van itself, as that area was spotless and the walls/paint were in perfect condition. It had only very little rust and drives well. 



Here’s how it looked when I first bought it:



And with the exterior changes finished:

(removed the running boards. Put on slightly bigger tires (Goodyear Duratracs). Put on vent fan, roof rack, and solar array.



Interior, before starting:




This is with all the curtains up covering the windows. The electrical system was not installed when I took this picture. The curtains are black on the side facing the windows. They attach to the van with metal snaps. They are almost perfect and let very very little light escape. I may fix the snap locations sometime to make them 100% perfect.



View from the back. That tall box on the left side is for storing a bicycle. The right side of the van is the kitchen area, with food storage in the cubbard next to the van, a Whynter 45q fridge in the middle, and the front area I use for storing water and other misc. things. I made the water and cooking systems very simple – I just have 2.5g jugs for storing water, and a 64oz container that I refill from the jugs and use to dispense water. No sink or anything. For cooking, I use a single burner propane stove that fits on top of 1lb propane bottles. I also have a Mr Buddy heater that screws onto the 1lb propane canisters.

The left side contains (starting from the bed and moving forward)

-              Drawers for storage, and a trash van that fits into the bit of space in front of the wheelwell

-              Another set of drawers. These are on wheels, and I wheel them out of that area in order to use that space for my legs and feet while I use the top surface for a desk/table

-              Electrical area

-              Bike box/more storage

(also, I build the bed and sized the mattress thickness so I can fit four large rubbermaid containers under the bed (maybe 17 gallon size, I can’t remember for sure), and also sit on the bed without having to slouch over from my head hitting the roof. This just barely works out. The rubbermaids fit perfectly and if I sit on the bed with completely upright posture, my head just touches the roof.)



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#2 my_wild_dreams_


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 05:05 PM

Here’s a look at how the rubbermaids fit under the bed. The bed platform basically just covers the top of the rubbermaids.




View from the back (on the bed), with the electrical system finished and the curtains stored away. I like having all these windows. It is a little annoying putting up and taking down the curtains while I’m in the city, but I like having the windows when I’m outside of cities and while driving.



This is the electrical system. I still need to make a cover for it. I have 400w of solar panels on the roof. I use a Morningstar Tristar MPPT charge controller, a Lifeline 200ah AGM battery, and a Samlex 600w inverter. I have nice switches and fuses from Blue Sea. The “front panel” has an on/off and dimmer switch for the lights, 2 sets of 2 USB outlets, 2 DC Cigarette outlets, a battery monitor, and the inverter. The electrical system took me a REALLY long time (~4 months), most of which was research, design, and parts selection.




Here’s my wiring diagram. This isn’t EXACTLY how I have it, but it’s really close. I’m posting this from work so I don’t want to get out my personal computer and find the final verison




Here’s the roof, with solar panels and vent fan. For the solar panels, I made an array frame out of aluminum metal stock and bolted them to the roof rack with U-bolts.



Here’s the bike box. I expect to do quite a lot of bicycling. I’ve been into riding for many years and got in deep for a few years of racing. So I expect I’ll ride quite a lot while I’m out and about. I will need to consider if I want to change to a MTB or cross bike to be able to ride on more varied terrain.



And I made a cover for the box:


The bike box goes RIGHT UP against the back of the seat while I have it positioned for driving.


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#3 my_wild_dreams_


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 05:06 PM

This is the desk area in use:


I use a bucket now for a seat (I place the bucket upside down and put an airplane neck pillow on top of it for a cushion). It’s quite comfortable.


The van came with an open differential and traction was horrible on slick roads with the (fairly worn) tires it came with and nothing in the back. I put in a Lunchbox Locker and that made a HUGE difference. The larger tires raised the van about 1.5” and that certainly helps. I feel like I want it raised another 1-2” with suspension modifications but I don’t know if I’ll ever bother with that. I’ll use the van for a while first to see if I need to. At some point I should modify (roll?) the fenders or wheelwells to make a bit more space for the larger tires. The front tires can rub right at full turning.


The locker going in:




Here are a few other miscellaneous build pictures:


Insulating the walls and a “furring” board to attach things to:



Before starting the furniture build inside, I made many drafts of different layouts, and tested them inside the van with boxes. This is the plan that I used for my build:

The top picture is a top view of the back section of the van. (so the left edge is the back of the van and the right edge would be right up against the back of the driver and passenger seats). The lower picture is a side view. The grid is 1”x1”.



My brother is very handy with drafting programs and he made his picture of my layout plan in a few minutes:



While I was testing layouts, this is how much storage space there is with the layout I used. The bike storage is additional to this, but the volume represented by these boxes would include the kitchen and electrical areas



After insulating the walls and ceilings and putting boards or plastic on them for the finished interior wall and ceiling surfaces, and with the lights installed and hooked up to small batteries to test and use for working lights



Wood floor boards installed, and boxes put over the wheelwells. There is some storage room inside these boxes, behind the wheel wells (inside those holes)





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#4 my_wild_dreams_


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 05:15 PM

Here are some trips I’ve taken with the van so far.

-          I took it to Colorado and went camping two weekends. My family live out there and they came along for parts of the weekends.

-          Camped in Shawnee National forest in southern Illinois for Labor day weekend

-          Camped in Mark Twasn National forest one weekend

-          Been living in the van for close to 2 months in St Louis while I wait for my house sale closing

(The Shawnee and Colorado trips where made while still building the van)


Most recent trip, Mark Twain NF:



Living in the van in St Louis is easy. I stay pretty low key so people don’t notice me much. Also, inside the city of St Louis the police are busy with real crime and even if someone called the cops on me, they probably wouldn’t come, or would only arrive hours later. I keep the curtains up and if I’m not sleeping out in front of my house, I drive the van to where I will sleep right before I go to bed so there is less change of someone taking notice. So far not a single person has said anything to me. St Louis is also a pretty good city for this because so many people park on the streets (so you don’t stand out much) and there are many different and unique/interesting neighborhoods to explore.



At Shawnee NF:




These were from Colorado, with my brother. (He preferred to sleep in the tent instead of on the van floor)









Before buying the van, I went on a couple camping trips with rental SUVs. I was able to do both of them in cool places while being on trips there for work. First in California (went to Sequioa/King’s Canyon) and then 2 times in Arizona (Sedona area, Coconino, and Tonto NFs)

California campsite:







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#5 DrJ


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 06:29 PM

Wow. Nice work.

Great design process and a well thought out layout.

That is really impressive!

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#6 Bill D

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 08:51 PM

Really cool. It looks quite comfortable and functional. Good job.
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#7 takesiteasy


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 09:28 PM

Really cool. It looks quite comfortable and functional. Good job.


x2. Should be a great home on wheels. I look forward to reading some more trip reports once you are on the road.

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#8 Alley-Kat


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 09:55 PM

Excellent & creative!

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#9 Happyjax


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Posted 26 May 2016 - 10:13 PM

Very nice job! Looking forward to more of your adventures:)

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#10 Doc Foster

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Posted 27 May 2016 - 12:40 AM

Nicely done!  I also like the look of those older Dodge vans.

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