Camp Anywhere with a Custom Sprinter Van RV Conversion

By July 21, 2016Automotive

Have you always wanted the comfort of camping in an RV without having to stay at an RV park or large campsite? Instructables user “Making it There” details the steps taken to convert a Sprinter van into a mobile RV. A major process, but the end result is amazing.

For this DIY custom Sprinter van RV conversion project, a 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van was used. Other models may work for this same project, but the user chose the 2006 model for the 140-inch wheelbase. This is large enough for the project and small enough to still fit in a standard parking space.

The entire project took about 6 months and cost about $6,000. The cost of a used 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van can vary between $5k and $15k, depending on the condition and mileage.

The first step involved designing the layout of the interior. CAD design software was used for this process. This gives you the ability to plan your cabinets and seating in 3-dimensions and receive exact measurements.

Interior CAD design

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Once the layout was completed, you can divide the plans into individual parts. The user that created this DIY project sourced the cutting of the plywood pieces. But, if you have the tools and knowledge, you could cut these pieces out yourself.

Before any of these pieces can go into the Sprinter van, insulation needs to be installed. First, painter’s plastic was used to cover the floor and cab area. Spray foam installation was used and the entire job took about 15 minutes.

Insulating the van with plastic and foam

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1/8-inch Baltic birch plywood was used for paneling. A flexible wood was chosen in order to bend around the gradual curves of the interior.

Lining interior with wood

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Next, you can start putting together the cabinetry. Using the pieces that you cut from your CAD template, you can assemble your cabinets and install them in the van.

Install cabinetry

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The woodworking part of the project is complete. But, the RV van still needs a kitchen. This means adding an oven, range, hood, and sink.

Of course, this also meant adding propane and water tanks. The propane and water tanks were added inside the van, as opposed to mounting beneath the van. This makes sense, as you don’t want to worry about a propane tank below your vehicle when driving over rough terrain. This also made sense of the water cans, so that they will not freeze or get too hot.

Space was created below the oven to fit a 20-pound propane tank. Four 5-gallon Jerry cans were added below the sink for water. Three are used for fresh water, one for solar showers, and one for dirty water. A hand pump combined with an electric pump and foot pedal are used to run the water.

Building the kitchen

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While those steps would seem to be enough to satisfy the needs of most DIY enthusiasts, this builder decided to add large 100W solar panels in order to power the items in the kitchen.

They also wanted space for storing a collapsible picnic table, camp chairs, and extra blankets. So, where do these items go? On the roof.

Two custom form-fit roof pods were created to house all of these items while still providing a flat surface for the solar panels. A lightweight, UV-resistant plastic called Choroplast was chosen for the roof pods.

Building the roof pods

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Again, CAD design software was used to design the pods. They were designed to open from either side of the van. This way, the solar panels could be pointed in different directions and adjusted as the sun sets.

Hopefully, this summary did not make this seem like a simple project. You are going to have to put in some hard work to complete your own custom vehicle. But, if you feel up to the challenge, take a look at the full custom Sprinter van RV conversion DIY project.