Richards Outstanding Van Conversion: Part 1

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Dodge-van-RTR-002

Installing the Solar Power System at Summer RTR.

In this post I am going to do something a little unusual it is a combination of a Classified Ad and conversion story. I met Richard at the RTR and he was one of those rare guys I knew instantly that I could be best friends with. That doesn’t happen often, but I always treasure it when it does happen. While at the RTR he and I went down to the Solar Store in Flagstaff and bought his system. Everything he bought was the very highest quality and one of the very best systems I have ever seen (over $4000 for the parts alone). I watched him and some friends install it and everything is top-notch. It’s all done the right way with no cutting corners. With 630 watts, he should never run out of power, even in a week of rain.
This post is just an overview of the van and giving you the sales information. In my next post we will look at the details of how he converted the van. He documented it unusually well, so I think it will be  especially helpful.
Looking in from the side door. Everything is very well done!

Looking in from the side door. Everything is very well done!

The porta-potty is hidden from sight and easy to get to and use.

The porta-potty is hidden from sight and easy to get to and use.

Since then his circumstances have changed and he is able to return to his wife and family in Thailand earlier than he planned, so he is selling the van. You might think he is asking too much but when you consider everything you are getting, he is asking less than half of what he has invested and that doesn’t include his time and labor—which would increase the price by at least a third. So in this series of posts I’m hoping he sells the van so he can go home and one of you can get a truly outstanding new home. And the rest of us can see and learn from an outstanding van conversion with many new and creative ideas. This his story in his words.
The other ARB refrigerator. Most people won't want two, so you can easily sell one of them and get some of your money back!

The other ARB refrigerator. Most people won’t want two, so you can easily sell one of them and get some of your money back!

The Van Repairs and Maintenance

Dodge Ram 3500 1 ton extended camper van 5.9 liter, automatic,136,000 miles. I’ve lived in this home on wheels for the past 2 months while touring the US almost 13,000 miles. It has been very dependable. I was planning to live in it for up to 5 years so was getting it comfortable and invested over $20,000 for the build, tools any repairs and appliances. However, my plans have changed and i will be moving back to Thailand much sooner than expected. All appliances, stove, sink, fridge/freezers, heater, tools and solar system are all new purchased since June 2013 and I have all receipts.

If you've never been in a extended van, the amount of extra room they give you is amazing!! I wouldn't buy a van without it.

If you’ve never been in a extended van, the amount of extra room they give you is amazing!! I wouldn’t buy a van without it.

I am asking $9500, but since I’m in a hurry to get back to my wife in Thailand I will consider any reasonable offer. I’m currently located in southern California and headed to the Thai Embassy in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning and would love to leave soon after. My cell # is 903 573 2982.
Thank you again Bob for all your help. It was an honor to have met you at the summer RTR and I know that had I stayed in America you and I would have had some really fun and interesting travels together.
Cheers,
Richard

  • I bought the van in Texas for $3500 and put another $2,000 into having a new air conditioner and new switch installed which operated the horn and cruise control. I think it was called a clock spring switch as well as a few other minor things. Total at Purchase $5500.
  • Change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles.
  • I replaced the front ball joints packed the wheel bearings and front wheel alignment ($708)
  • I had the PCM (powertrain control module computer) replaced ($674)
  • Replaced front brakes $140,
  • Replaced both front and rear shocks ($172)  
  • New tires installed July 12th this year ($717.59)
  • An extra large bottle jack and jack stands ($143).

Outside the Van

  • I sanded primed and painted any small rust spots.
  • Installed the roof rack ($454)
  • Installed the vent fan.
he built a wall in the back of the van creating a sort-of outdoor shed. At first I didn't like the idea, but then I realized he carried his propane tank in there and it allowed him to use the entire vertical area I fell in love with it. Because it is an extended van, there is as much interior space as most peoples vans so you don't miss this area.

He built a wall in the back of the van creating a sort-of outdoor shed. At first I didn’t like the idea, but then I realized he carried his propane tank in there and it allowed him to use the entire vertical area I fell in love with it. Because it is an extended van, there is as much interior space as most peoples vans so you don’t miss this area.

 
He can carry a lot of stuff in here and it can't go flying!

He can carry a lot of stuff in here and it can’t go flying!

Inside the Van

  • 2-Burner propane Stove
  • Under the sink is a 9 gallon water storage tank and a gray water tank. The sink was only $26 and the pump with water faucet was $90 and the water tank was $93.68.That totalled $209
  • ARB Fridge/Freezers 37 quart for $710 and a 63 quart for $914  the two together along with the 12 volt sockets, wire, Circuit Fuse box, 100 amp breaker, and misc. wire connectors came to $2,022.97.
  • The bed has a 100% Natural Latex Topper 3″ Firm Twin mattress on it as I like the ones that are anti mold, anti bugs and breath real good. That was $339.00.
  • The porta potty was a little over $100
  • I also have a new Mr Buddy Heater that is still in the box not used yet. $90
Richard installing the two Kyocera 315 watt solar panels.

Richard installing the two Kyocera 315 watt solar panels.

Solar Power System

This is the single best solar power systems I have every seen. Every component was chosen because it was the best and and installation was outstanding. Total cost on it alone totalled over $4000. I know that for a fact because I was there when he paid for it.

  • Mounted  630 watts of solar panels on the roof rack (2  Kyocera 315 watt panels)
  • My charge controller is a Tri-Star MPPT 60 amp.
  • Four 6 volt, 220 amp hour deep cycle Crown batteries (total 440 amp hours)
  • Monitor for Tri-Star
  • 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave inverter
  • 300 Watt Pure Sine Wave inverter
  • Built a ventilated box for the batteries.
Dodge-electric

The electrical center behind the drivers seat. All top-quality components.

Previous Living in a Step-Van
Next Richards Outstanding Van Conversion: Part 2–Insulation, Flooring, Solar

29 Comments

  1. LaVonne

    Wow! Think he’d take a (bad) check? *sigh*

    • Bob

      laVonne, probably NOT if you tell it is bad first!
      Bob

  2. Christine

    Aww, sorry to see you leave the tribe, but I’m glad you get to see your wife. Nice job on your rig, we’d totally buy it if we didn’t already have our van. Good luck and safe travels, Richard!

  3. Curtis

    Wow,
    That is an amazing van and who ever invests in that will be set up for a long time.
    Unfortunately it will not be me this time.:)

    • Bob

      Yeah, it is out of my price range too!
      Bob

  4. Meg

    I can confirm that extended vans are great for space. In my brief (and not-so-successful) venture into vandwelling that’s what I had; if/when I do it again I will look for another one.
    Richard, just wondering – What year is your van? I didn’t see it in the post.. Oh and one more thing – I’m glad you got to see some of our country, have a safe trip home to Thailand.

  5. DougB

    Oh, Dude! Underpriced! It’s really too bad you’re in such a time crunch, but understandable. I do hope you find a home for it.

  6. Patrick

    Richard,
    Cheap to ship it to Thailand. That might options worth look into.

  7. Offroad

    139,000 miles and no report on the engine condition? no compression test? no oil chemical analysis? no records of coolent fluids, last time the water pump changed? good job on shocks replacement!! good on tires and brakes!! muffler? timing belt chain inspection? any recalls or alerts on this brand-model? Chevy is great (cheaper than ford).
    i suggust all this information as i might have missed it, and want this van to sell faster. can not buy it myself, but looks like a good deal.

  8. Calvin R

    If my lottery ticket hits, you’ll get a call. Otherwise I can only envy whoever gets the van. Richard, you did a great job. I wish you all the best on your return to Thailand.

  9. Offroad

    also thinking do an oil pressure check, compared to factory original. and pull a carfax on it. maybe some recommended 20 point inspection ( use whatever the local dealers brag about for inspection lists ). since this looks like a great van, it should be strongly backed up by facts.
    your limits on information are time, and inspection costs.

  10. Laughing Richard

    Thank you, Bob for the nice article.
    One correction is that I found that I didn’t need the 300 watt sine wave inverter as the 2000 does it all so I returned the 300 watt. So not part of the deal.

  11. Laughing Richard

    Hi LaVonne. Ha ha ha, I prefer no bad checks.

  12. Laughing Richard

    Thank you, Christine.
    Happy trails to you too.

  13. Laughing Richard

    Hi Meg, it’s a 2001 Dodge Ram 1 ton

  14. Laughing Richard

    Patrick, customs is brutal on vehicles and solar. And they drive on the other side of the road, and not very good!

  15. Laughing Richard

    Offroads I’ll try to work on that soon to get that. Thanks for your interest.

  16. CAE

    Looks like a beauty. What kind of mgp are you getting?

  17. Joy

    Sweet van…..someone will swoop it up. If I had the cash…I would. Good luck to you in the future.

  18. SwankieWheels

    my fav saying… “If I had the cash!”

    • Curtis

      Lol Swankie I think we have all said that at one time or another.:)

    • Bob

      Me too charlene!
      Bob

  19. Laughing Richard

    Thank you all for your kind words and compliments.
    CAE the best that I’ve ever gotten was 16.6 mph and the worst was 12mpg some of that was city driving but most of it was open highway. She’s got a big engine and whenever I needed the power to pass uphill she never let me down.

  20. Laughing Richard

    that’s 16.6 mpg. It does go much faster than that!

  21. Whatzernaim

    I am really interested in this van. I will be talking to my loan company tomorrow when they open. If I am approved for the loan, what airport shall I fly into?

  22. Laughing Richard

    Hi Whatzernaim,
    I’ve been telling people they can fly into either LAX or SF as I’m staying about halfway between them. Your choice.
    Call me before you come and I’ll meet you there if I possibly can. 903 573 2982
    Cheers,
    Richard

  23. Don D

    Richard,
    Has this van been sold? I’m in Morro Bay and it sounds like you’re probably fairly close. I’d like to take a look at it, if possible.
    Thanks…. Don

  24. Laughing Richard

    Hi Don,
    Sorry, I didn’t see your post until just now. Yes I am close to Morro Bay. Come take a look.
    Call me soon, 903 573 2982
    Grover Beach is only about 28 miles from Morro Bay
    Cheers,
    Richard

  25. Laughing Richard

    I have very good news today, a fellow traveler from Washington has purchased the van.
    Thank you Bob for all of your positive help and energy.
    Cheers,
    Richard

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