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Old 05-01-2012, 08:09 AM   #1
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Default And so the adventure begins.

So I will cronicle the progress (or lack of) here so that others may provide helpful ideas along the way. I will attempt to edit much of what will be said along the way when things dont go quite as planned (hehe).

A little about what I am looking to accomplish. I posted this in a couple other threads, but will state it again here to keep all the info in once place for anyone following my foolhardy adventure
I currently work maintaining the fleet for a travelling show. As such, I need a decent sized space for all my tools. The show has been reasonably good to me, but the 8X10 space they provided for my living area just isnt big enough, I am being overrun by tools, and those are just the ones I bought here, not the entire storage unit of tools back home.... Even should I leave the show, I will end up using the truck for residential rehabs. Flipping houses is not as sexy or as easy as they make it out on TV, but you can make a decent living at it if you know how to build a home. Especially if you dont need a motel room for weeks at a time while doing the plumbing or wiring which would make it so you cant stay in the house..
So...I decided to do a DIY conversion. This website was a huge help right out of the gate. After reading multiple threads I decided the type of truck box I was looking for. I wanted the furniture moving box for the pre-built attic area which will become the bunk. The rest of the space (the 6' attic was overkill, but it came with the truck, so I will use it) will be lightweight storage for clothing or something else very light. I dont want to overload the attic with weight.
The box itself is 25'. I will be using the last 10' of the truck for a workshop/tool storage area. (it will be a nice change of pace to not have my tools (literally) under my feet) This leaves me with little under 15' for living space, which should be enough considering the bunk is over the cab and not included in the 15'. The back of the truck has a working 1800lb liftgate, which will make loading and unloading rollaways filled with tools *much* easier

First the before pics. The truck itself is about 300 miles away from me atm, so the pics are off the net, sorry for the quality, but you will get the idea of what I am working with at least

The very first question is the decals/vinyl on the outside.. heat gun and goo gone to remove them would be my first choice. Paint will be last but I have read much on the subject so far, and I am wondering why an oil based primer but a latex/acrylic finish?

Onwards to the inside (and the important stuff). I have not seen too many pics of the insulation as it's being installed. I am guessin everyone used either straight rigid board, or lined rigid board. Where did everyone draw the line? I am thinking atm I want a R14 (or thereabouts) so I need a double layer (for a total of 2 inches). But having never done this before, I am wondering will that create chaos when it comes time to install the windows?

More as I think up an intelligent way to present the 1,000,001 questions running around in my head atm.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:18 AM   #2
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Default Insulation

The first question that comes to mind is the crush value of the rigid foam. If I have 2 inches below the subfloor, am I going to run into problems with the foam crushing and creating waves in the floor? I have used foam panels to insulate a slab foundation before, but once the concrete sets, it will not affect the structure if the foam moved. The walls and ceiling are obviously not a problem for this, but I am wondering if a 5/8" plywood will be enough to evenly distribute the weight to avoid any issues, or if 3/4" would be better.

Another thought pops into my brain, and that is the 2.5-3" height of the new floor will create a (minor) problem with the side door. I can always use some angle to close up the gap. In case anyone is wondering, atm I am not planning on removing the side door. It works just fine, and I see no reason to remove it. And I can see several reasons not to. The first being if I make it smaller, I will need to reskin the area where the old door was. Having limited experience with this, I am not positive about the outcome. And since it isnt broken, no need to fix it..lol I will be removing the exterior latch in favor of a 'normal' door handle (and one that can lock from the inside). I am not sure what I will find inside the door itself, it does not sound hollow. But that's a bridge for another day
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:13 PM   #3
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Yay, another fun conversion project to watch. Thanks for starting this thread. Have you read the thread about the Stealth build by Randy St. Clair? That might be useful. I'll find the link.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:14 PM   #4
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Here it is: Stealth Camper Build Thread
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:43 PM   #5
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For the floor I would put runners under the 3/4" plywood. On the seams, as you will otherwise never keep them even and then, say, 2 feet OC. This should take care of any compression.
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:18 PM   #6
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Default Enjoy the Adventure

Since you are building from the existing box in, there are lots of similarities between your project and the Stealth Camper I built. Bob86ZZ4 gave you the link to the thread (Thanks Bob). I posted a ton of pictures in the photo gallery. Just look for keyword "Stealth".

I tested R-max foam for crushing and found I could not crush it with 5/8" plywood on top. I did use supports under the seams, but nowhere else. In my case I used 1/2" foam under the floor, 1 1/2" in the walls, and up to 5" to 6" in the ceiling, depending on the arch.

Personally I figure windows are a liability, but many can't imagine living without them.

I have to tell you, just this once. You can probably buy something close to what you want far cheaper than building it. (but building is more fun...) Others will tell you the same. I spent over $40K on my little 14' box truck. The good news is that you will get exactly what you want.

Oil based primer and latex top coat? Sounds like a bad idea to me. I was told you can put oil base over latex, but not the other way around. The latex will not adhere properly and will blister. Assuming you are talking about the outside, I am not sure that any type of house paint is the way to go. Then again, I am no paint expert.

Good luck!
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ran D. St. Clair View Post
Since you are building from the existing box in, there are lots of similarities between your project and the Stealth Camper I built. Bob86ZZ4 gave you the link to the thread (Thanks Bob). I posted a ton of pictures in the photo gallery. Just look for keyword "Stealth".

I tested R-max foam for crushing and found I could not crush it with 5/8" plywood on top. I did use supports under the seams, but nowhere else. In my case I used 1/2" foam under the floor, 1 1/2" in the walls, and up to 5" to 6" in the ceiling, depending on the arch.

Personally I figure windows are a liability, but many can't imagine living without them.

I have to tell you, just this once. You can probably buy something close to what you want far cheaper than building it. (but building is more fun...) Others will tell you the same. I spent over $40K on my little 14' box truck. The good news is that you will get exactly what you want.

Oil based primer and latex top coat? Sounds like a bad idea to me. I was told you can put oil base over latex, but not the other way around. The latex will not adhere properly and will blister. Assuming you are talking about the outside, I am not sure that any type of house paint is the way to go. Then again, I am no paint expert.

Good luck!
I read the stealth article (good read) but I found the picture gallery to be far more enlightening. As a starting example, I loved the before pics of the stud walls exposed and the wiring conduits running in the walls. If I stud the walls (even with 2X3's) I can go insane with the insulation. (The outside skin is attached to the metal runners, and there is 1 layer of insulation, plus another 3" to go. Talk about R value and soundproofing...lol. I am suprised you put only half an inch on the floor tho. 5 in the roof sounds good, since we all know heat rises and most of your heat loss is in the roof.

Has anyone tried using closed cell spray foam? After you stud the walls in and get the electrical set up, it would completely seal the walls/ceiling. It would also strengthen the walls. Not sure if that's a good thing tho, considering the box may 'twist' on the frame? Has anyone had problems with the walls shifting because of this?

BTW, your van looked *awesome* far better than my project will come out..but how did you manage to spend 40k? I am looking at 500 for a top of the line toilet (the simple things in life sometimes are the most important..lol), 500 for a shower (btw, anyone use a regular shower enclosure instead of a 'rv' model?) 1k for a fridge, 500 midgrade stove. So 2k for appliances (assuming I dont cheap out and use the apartment 4' fridge I have in storage, heh) probably 1500 in insulation, the tanks are a big ? at the moment, and a discussion topic I will post after dinner. (size, location, etc etc). But average 500 a pop is still only another 1500. 1k in lumber, and I am still at 7k. even if my insulation is really low, double it to 3k, and still only at 8k. (btw, I already own a 6500 gen and a 1500 portable, those wont be added into the price). And I dont know how much the electrical system will be. Currently I am planning on running two 50 amp shore cords. One for the 'house' and another for the workshop, since most of my corded tools are 10-15amps each. And the space heater I use to heat the house is a true 15 amp draw, it will have it's own circuit. (Comfort Furnace..worth every penny of the 350 I spent for it) No idea yet what it will cost to repaint the outside. I know what color it will be tho. The dark blue stripe from the Atlas logo is the color I am going with.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:07 PM   #8
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Default Tanks

And onwards to another topic. The tanks. Everyone who has been in the RV community for more than a day knows you have 3 tanks. But what size tanks are considered 'adaquate'. As a single person in a 15' living space, one might suggest a 25 or 30 gallon tank as being enough for the blackwater and greywater tanks. In my current situation the greywater is a non-issue, since the show pipes the greywater out directly.

As I price out the tanks, I quickly realize that the price of the tank does go up, but not proportionally to the size. ie, a 25 gallon tank might cost 218, while a 50 gallon tank only costs 300. Using a hypothetical 2 flushes per day (we have facilities on site, so it will not be utilized 100%) at a gallon each, a 25 gallon tank needs to be emptied every couple weeks, where the 50 gallon tank only needs once per month (approx). Since I pay the show the same amount regardless of size, and I have the room, it makes sense to use a larger tank, unless someone can show me a reason not too? (and I do realize some toilets out there use a great deal less than a gallon per flush, but it's a reasonable number to start the discussion with.)
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:31 PM   #9
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My coach has a 25 gallon black tank and 75 gallon gray tank. My wife and I can go about 5 days before they're full. Now that's with taking showers every day. And not being all conservative about flushing. The rv toilet doesn't use anywhere near a gallon a flush. And we almost never use public facilities. So, if you're out and about during the day and can use the other spots you're going to greatly extend your range. Also, it's not a big deal at all to flush them out. I think it's actually better to flush them out more often than not. Less time for stuff to start growing in there. When I bought mine I thought it seemed odd to have a 75/25 ratio. But, they both seem to fill about the same rate. Another thing, forget about level monitors for them. At least not the in tank kind. I've heard those ones that only mount to the outside work okay. Mine has probes screwed through the side of the tanks. They've never worked as far as I can tell. My previous rv had the same type and those didn't work either. I just make a habit of shining a flashlight down the hole once in awhile to see how high it's getting. And if my gray tank gets full it backs up into the shower so I know it. And my fresh water tanks are under the bed so I cut a hole on the side panelling and put a cabinet door on it. Then I just lift up the door and shine a flashlight in to see how much fresh water there is. I much prefer this method over some electronic means.

I've heard from the guys that have built their own, take your best estimate of cost, double that, then add some more, and you might now be pretty close to what it's going to cost. And you'll never ever ever be able to sell it for anywhere near what it cost you. But, most everybody that's built their own is glad they did and are enjoying their rigs. I didn't have to make the decision of buying/building. I have absolutely no skills to build one.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:03 AM   #10
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After the effort going into this rig, I wouldnt even *think* about selling it. Also, the rig wont be as sexy as the Stealth Project. I work with diesel engines and fleet related activities all day. So I am covered in grease, oil, and fuel on a daily basis. So I am not going to spend 20k on the interior only to ruin it a year later. I am thinking painted plywood for the walls, so they can be sanded and repainted when they get crappy. I could just go with vinyl, but I havent seen anything I would be happy with.

Speaking of the tanks, you mention looking down with a flashlight. obviously when you 'flush' you open the valve to the tank below, but I didnt realize it was that open you could peer down to check the level. I had heard the monitors were a 50/50 shot on working properly, but I was also afraid of standing in water while I was taking a shower, lol. I realize flushing out the tanks isnt a big deal, but I am looking at the long term costs while I am with the show. It's cheap to pump out (15 bucks) but why do it every two weeks when a larger tank lets you do it once a month? And things growing in your black tank is a *good* thing. Help to break down the solids
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