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Friday, June 24, 2011

MINIVAN CONVERSION




We loved our old VW camper but the darn thing kept breaking down. Last month we replaced it with a Toyota Sienna van. At first it looked like the dozens you see on the road. Then, we tossed the back seats and replaced them with a simple bed frame.














Next, I covered the frame with plywood on hinges. There are four parts and each end lifts up to give access to the storage areas below. On the port side I built shelves and a cooking area.










At his point a small brown dog discovered our mini-camper and took up residence.




Francesca made curtains and our friend, Gina, helped us with cushions that allow us, to have either a back seat or a bed.











A table pops up for fine dining and the blue box to the right keeps the wine chilled.









We did this for $200. A California company (www.gtrv.com) can to the same thing [including a pop-top] for $20,000. There's another website (http://www.myminicamper.com/) than offers instructions on how to do cheap minivan conversions.



ONE FINAL TOUCH
A little tarp and two bamboo sticks gave us a front porch.

(May, '14 note.  The 6x8 tarp is okay for shade but not the best in the rain. We're upgrading to 8x10')


Today's the Big Day. Francesca, Pi, and I are going to jump in our rolling home and head for Chicago. After that we'll go west on the Oregon Trail.

We'll probably stop at every place that allows dogs.





Stay tuned for details.

Postscript, December, 2011
Our Big Trip:  49 days,  29 camping nights (we stayed with friends a lot) , and 14,000 miles in the last six months, we have no regrets.
We drove almost 11,000 miles around the U.S. last summer with no significant problems.
Our design works well and seems just right for us. If you have a question write to bettermiami1@yahoo.com and I'll try to help you out.
Glenn

VAN CONVERSION II , August, 2012
It's been a little over a year since we did our conversion.  A number of you have written to ask for more information and photographs.  Someone suggested that I write detailed plans and I suppose I might someday.
   For now I'll show you  a little more about the seat that converts into a bed.   It is made of a 4x8 sheet of 3/8" plywood.  There are enough supports beneath it to keep it from bending too much.  It is cut into four parts (with a little left over).  

The front two pieces form the back and bottom of the seat.  They are hinged to each other but not to anything else.  The supportive bottom struts hold them in place (in their two positions).
 When you lift the seat ups you notice the support that keeps it from sliding forward and the folding leg that holds up the starboard side of the front of the bed. A simple cabinet catch keeps it folded away:
 Here's how it looks folded down:
 The back of the seat is held up by two pieces of hardwood (about 1.5"x3/16"x16") .  I have had trouble with them splitting under stress and I may replace them with steel supports.   They are pinned on each side with a 1/4" bolt tied to a piece of thin bungee cord (a rubber band would probably work as well).  The cord loops around a screw head under slight tension to keep the seat back and the supportive strut pinned together. 
 Removing them for the bed conversion is a breeze.  When not in use we keep them in the beverage holder a few inches away.


 The bottom of the seat struts are hinged to a thin piece of 3/8 plywood that is attached to the side of the bed frame.  They fold out of the way when it is time to go into bedroom mode.
 The third piece of the bed is permanent, 6" wide 3/8" plywood strip and it helps hold the bed frame together.  Hinged to it is the last piece which we call "the basement door".  Lift it up to reveal the "basement", our large storage area in the back.   
    The removed upper seat belt holes make a fine place for a supportive bolt.  A string loops on the "door" (each side)and hold it open when you want access to the back.
 The basement revealed:
I hope this helps.   I'll write more later...

Update-April 17, 2013
    Our van's been chillin' for the last year, just occasion trips around the Sunshine State.  In June we'll take it on another big adventure, north to Canada.  We see no need to change anything.
What we created 22 months ago still works fine. 

Update, August 22, 2013 
      We're back from our 7000 mile trip to Canada.  It was great (and well-covered in this blog).
We still can't think of anything significant we'd change in our van.
I may build another one just for fun (and sell the '04 that we now have).
I am being encouraged to write some sort of van conversion book.
I may do that when things slow down. On the road, somewhere in Northern Michigan

Update, Nov. 19, 2013
  Brian wrote asking "with mini-vans having uneven floors, how do you figure out how long each bed leg should be to have a level bed surface?"   I replied,

 Brian,
  Actually, all of the mini-vans' floors are uneven.  What you do is to park you van in a level place.  Then, you decide where you want your bed to be (like, 1 foot above the floor).   Here are two methods to figure out how long the bed legs should be.
  A) Get a level and mark the inside wall making a level line with pieces of tape.  This is where you'd want your bed to "touch" the inside wall.  Then you measure how long the legs have to be to reach the floor.
   B) Another way is to build a simple frame for your bed, say, 6' x 4' with four cross pieces (I used 2x2 pine).  Place this inside your van where you want your bed to be, on top of boxes or milk crates.  Get it level using shims or whatever.  Now you can actually measure how long each leg needs to be in the place that it will touch the floor.
Voila!
Glenn


Update, April 24, 2014
     Hi Gang,
     The van's in the driveway begging for the next adventure.  No solid plans yet but Bill S. just wrote to ask, "What do you do when it gets too hot to camp?  I responded,

Hi Bill,
     I'm glad you enjoyed my blog and the Sienna conversion post.  It's a popular entry on my blog ( The Grove Guy).

 
that, by far, is the
       
       How do we stay cool while camping in the summer?

 First, we bought a van with an AC that works great (unlike the VW's). 
      Second, we try to go where it is cool in the summer (mountains, work fine).  We might camp on the ocean were there is a breeze and we also carry bring "our own breeze".  We have a plug-in fan and one that runs on batteries (30 hours on four batteries!).  
       Obviously, making screens that keep bugs out is important as well (covered up above somewhere).   Also, you make shade with

tarps suspended from your van (also above) or from nearby trees.
If you camp you see people creating portable carports with very large tarps tied to trees, protection from both rain and sun.

       In west Texas three years ago we attempted to camp in 106 degree weather.  I told my wife, "It'll cool off after sunset" and after the sun set, the thermometer climbed to 107. 
    We got a motel that night.  How we snuck the dog in is another story.

     I see that some create van "air conditioners" with ice-filled coolers and 12v fans (see 'em on You tube).  Whatever works for you...or, you could plug in the real thing.
     I once ran into a guy camping in the summer heat of the Florida Keys (not as bad as Texas) who carried a small AC on the floor of his van.  When it got too hot he hung it in the right front window, plugged it in and had instant cool!   

    How cool is that?
I hope you find this information helpful.
In Coconut Grove where it's starting to get warm again (we're  making plans to leave for the summer),
The Grove guy,
Glenn


PS:  A couple of reminders,
    -If you have a question you can write to me (the info is somewhere above but it's getting crowded up there).  My e-address is bettermiami1@yahoo.com.  I am Glenn Terry and my wife and I live in Coconut Grove, Florida.

    -I blog about all kinds of things at www.thegroveguy.blogspot.com.    Of my 400+ entries, the one about converting the van gets the most hits.

   - I am an artist and recently started my own "country", The Mango Republic.  Its a great place and you can be a citizen for free.  The ruler ("King Mango") is gracious, benevolent and tells good jokes.   
You can buy cool Mango Republic t-shirts at www.mangorepublic.org .   They're perfect for camping.
                                __________________
Answering Dave's Questions, May 4, 2014

Welcome to the site, Dave.  It's gotten over 58,000 hits since I put it together three years ago.  I know it lacks specifics but I haven't had time to add a lot of diminsions, drawings, more photos or so forth.  I think its pretty good the way it is.

I'm going to add an introductory video to it in August, when I'm back in Miami. 

   Congratulations on getting through nursing school.  I squeaked through law school many decades ago.  Twenty years later, I left lawyering to become an art teacher.  Best thing I ever did.
There are too many lawyers and I did my part to correct that problem.

    THE BASICS OF BUILDING A CAMPER...
                           The Quick Version
   
  You start converting your van tossing out the back seats.  Then, you measure the area you have to work with (things like, "How far do I want the driver's seat to slide back or recline?" become important...)  Then, it's how big to I want the bed to be? (Ours is a little narrower than a full ("double") bed)  Make it an inch longer than the tallest person sleeping in it.   Then, you build the shelves and stuff around that.  
Now built it!


 Improvised changing room, Cataloochee Campground, Smokey Mountain National Park, a very special place.  Making this "room" is a rare thing for us (it's the only time I've tried it).  I guess I was changing out of wet clothes after being caught in the rain.


WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
 
   Its odd but there is very little I would do differently if I were building the camper now.  I would make the two struts that hold up the couch back stronger (thicker/stronger wood or maybe metal) because they cracked a bit and had to be repaired en route (no big deal).  

   We're just happy with our set up.  It's simple.  I even made a tiny fold-up toilet which also can be a stool or garbage can!
       Your planned route for the summer sounds great.  Did you see the one we took?  If not , look at the blog entries from the summer of 2011 (beginning at the end of June, 2014.  It is similar to the one you are planning).  It starts right after the conversion piece.


(Response to a question on 5-18-14)
Hi Jordan,
    Great to hear you're going to be having some fun in your soon-to-be-built Sienna camper (it's the same year as ours).
Look at that third seat carefully.  Fat, tight, bolts hold it to the frame.  Remove them with socket wrenches
and the whole seat lifts out.  I think we put the bolts back in to fill the remaining holes. In many cases we used the bolts like this, slightly sticking out, to hold or fasten things.
   I don't think I mention it in the blog but I also removed the flip-up mini-table between the two front seats.  This gives you much more room to pass to the back.  We don't miss it at all.  Some wedge little ice chests into the remaining spot for "easily accessible snacks".  Some of these have 12-volt refrigeration systems.    Our "refrigerator" (an ice box right behind the driver's seat) works fine for us.       Your friends to the south, 
Glenn and Francesca
                          _________________ 

THE RONSMANS ON THE ROAD

JULY 1, 2014   We heard from the Dave and Meg Ronsman, a couple currently touring the west in their converted Honda minivan.  Here's a note from them plus info on their blog and a short, descriptive video (go to the end, the first entry on their blog, "June, 2014") for the "how we did it" part.

Thanks Glenn,
  Our van is complete.  We made a few changes and additions as you can see on our blog: http://ronsman.blogspot.com/   Without your pictures and a place for people to post similar experiences it would not have come to be.   
   We now have screens cut to fit outside the windows that we attach with magnets.  Curtains are coming soon.  We put a plug-in cooler in the "trunk" which helps to limit the necessity of buying ice. 
We love our foldable table idea, a nice luxury.  All in all we are very happy with how we built our camper based on your general model.

   With that being said, Meg and I are on the road.  We've enjoyed the luxury that the van brings- like sleeping in downtown Aspen, CO undercover on a travel day after backpacking the mountains. 
There is great joy in simple living.  

Enjoying the journey,
Dave and Meg

July 10, 2014
     I read that the Ronsmans (above) had begun their journey by driving from Wisconsin to San Francisco.  My wife and I are visiting the Bay Area too so we invited them to come see us in Berkeley. 
          It was so exciting to see them drive up in the '06 Odyssey, tricked out much like the one I built in this blog.   They've done a few things differently, like putting a plug-in cooler in "the basement".Dave is a happy camper

     They're a wonderful couple and we gave them the Berkeley tour.  Here we are in hills looking towards the San Francisco bay and the Golden gate bridge.



Francesca and Meg chillin' in the mini-camper.  
    This is the first time that I've seen the results of my minivan conversion blog in person.   It was a thrill.  We wish Meg and Dave many more miles of smiles on the road.
                               ___________


 EXTRA ELECTRIC
August 9, 2014             A new friend, "Ninh", wrote today.  She's about to go camping in her Sienna and asked about AC converters and lights.

Hi Ninh,
   Good to hear from you.  We just got back from a three-day 1000 mile trip in the van.  It worked perfectly, even at 120,000 miles!
  We sometimes use an $20 AC converter (Radio Shack) that plugs into the dash or the rear plug hole.  We use it for the computer, to re-charge the phone and camera, and other simple tasks.  
  How much light do you need?  For lights at night we use the van lights (there are many), electric lanterns, flashlights, and the little headband lights.  We have a propane lantern but don't take it with us much.  It is good for  creating a lot of light, at group gatherings and such.  
   Some people install a second battery in their vans to run lights, accessories and to not have to worry about running down the main engine battery.  Using too much of the main battery's power has never been a problem for us though.
     Most campgrounds have electricity so we keep an extension cord, small clamping desk light, an electric heater and fan in "the basement" boxes.
      Also, consider living without electricity for short times. Use candles or see what its like to explore "the dark".   The un-illuminated night an be an exciting place. 

  I hope this helps.  Let me know if you need any other assistance.
Glenn










 

51 comments:

  1. Nice job on the van! Now I see why you didn't answer my VW query. Oregon Country Fair?

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  2. Nice awning! I would love to do a conversion on my fiat scudo van sometime, looks like fun!

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  3. Wow... this is exactly what I'm wanting to do but could not get the ideas from head to van. Would you be willing to share more info about your bed design please.

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    Replies
    1. Steve,
      I'll tell you anything you need to know.
      We're here to help each other, right?
      G

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    2. Glenn: I own a 2001 Toyota Sienna with 210,000 miles and it still runs well, is watertight and dependable. Great car, and I'm glad your comments are giving the model its due. I have a couple questions about your layout: 1) Have you published a schematic of your bed/shelves/storage/table yet? 2) is the bed frame a standard "twin" size? 3) when bed is in the "seat" position, is the rear "storage basement" open to view? 4) are you aware of any mobile wi-fi equipment available to use my laptop while parked? ---Bryan O

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  4. Like the shelves at the rear window..
    I keep looking for a screened window solution.
    I currently use the eaves trough leaf guards (white plastic with screen) available at Home Depot that fit in the side windows of the sliding doors. My wife and I travel extensively in our Sienna. Nice to be able to travel till you drop anchor wherever.

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    Replies
    1. could you provide more info about how you screen your windows? Thanks.

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    2. I am planning on doing a minivan rv usin a dodge grand caravan, and thinking a wireframe, bent to fit the rear vent windows and front front windows

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  5. Planning to incorporate some of your ideas in my van. Question: where did you generally camp? I've read and have been considering truck stops and Wal-Mart lots. Tried that? Garry

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  6. Garry,
    We generally camped in state and national parks. You can't beat the price (usually $8 if you're 62 or older and $16 otherwise). We found the Wal-Mart scene to be a little creepy, bright lights and asphault (but some swear by it!). Truck stops? Try parking next to an 18-wheeler with its motor running all night! We did.
    Some of you others ask questions bu I can't figure out hows to reply directly to you. When I hit "reply" after you comments, nothing happens. GT

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  7. Yeah parking at walmart or any retail parking lot for that matter can be annoying, especially when at 3 am in the morning a street sweeper beings to clean the lot :) I too love my VW, but recently have been considering one of these. Can i ask you how much you paid for the sienna and the year? And what is your actual mpg? Also, about how long did it take to finish the conversion? Did you fabricate your own mats, or were you able to find covers?

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    Replies
    1. J,
      We bought a 2004 with 95,000 miles for $8,400. It's been terrific.
      The actual millage is @24-25 HWY and 19 in the city.
      The conversion took two weeks, 20-25 hours. We made out mats in three parts
      and they velcro tother while sleeping. Small "lips on the bed frame keep them in place as well.

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  8. It's hard to find great conversions for mini vans and I really like this one. I love the idea of using hinges to get at the storage under the bed. It seems that you have more room then I would have expected. Do you have any recommendations for a single van dweller? Since I see your bed can fit two. Perhaps do 2/3rd of the van for bed and couch then the other third for storage. hmm.

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    Replies
    1. Hola Theresa,
      If I alone were living in the van I would use a third of the present bed space for storage, maybe on one side, floor to ceiling. We even have a "bathroom" in ours that's the side of a phonebook! We turn our plastic filing stool into a ...well, y'know, when we rarely need it.
      As you've probably noticed, there are many sites for van-dwelling ideas. They've got all kinds of suggestions. Good luck!
      Glenn

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    2. I know this is sort of an old post but there is this incredible solo conversion at this link: cheaprvliving.com/Katies_Astro.html

      I'm working on a sort of hybrid of your design and this guy's.
      Thanks for taking the time to explain the design, it was incredibly helpful!

      Delete
    3. Also looking to do a minivan RV, but using a Dodfe Grand Caravan... and the bed I plan on running from behind drivers seat all the way to the rear hatch (long enough for my over six foot tall body) width of 30" - 36" with a hinged front that flip up for ext width... cushion with back that velcro together, a flip up section in the rear to stow a small chemical toilet.

      Delete
  9. Glenn,
    Nice Job!!
    I just bought a sienna after seeing your post. I can see how you made the bed. Do you have any additional photos or help you can offer for the side shelving, drop down table, and couch locks.

    Anything you can offer as help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Steve
    SteveisTrippin@hotmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve,
      Congrats on your Sienna purchase! Maybe I can take more photos to explain the couch locks and such. What we use to hold the back of the couch up is two pieces of 1/4 " wood (about 20" x 1.5") with a hole in each end. WIth the couch up it forms a triangle (with the bed frame and the back of the couch) to hold it all together. The supports are bolted to the frame (bottom) and and temporary 1/4 " bolts attach to the top of the back (held in place with a bit of tension by bungee cord. It would probably be better to make the supports out of 1/8" steel as our wood supports have a tendency to split under stress. When the couch is in bed mode the supports fold down nicely next to the bed frame. When not in use, we keep the temporary bolts with their attached bungee loops in a nearby cup holder.
      The "drop down table" is actually stored in the back hole (we call it "the basement") and with all the good weather we encounter, we rarely use it. We prefer the picnic tables at camp sites.
      The side shelving? We measured a lot and used a lot of cardboard to see how the shelves should be cut to match the curves of the walls. Get creative!
      I guess I should take pictures of all these things to make it easier for guys like you.
      Glenn

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    2. We just today got our sienna mini-van and we are excited for our first trip. I love what you've done with the place. hmmm, 20 - 25 hours? It will likely take us (much) longer than that. Would love more photos. We're having a challenge figuring out the hinge system for the front legs of the bed.

      Delete
  10. I love my 2004 Toyota Corolla Mini RV ! Love your van !

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MobileDwellers_SouthEast/?yguid=130023685

    Blessings2U,

    Wolf

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Wolf,
      How sweet it is to drive a Sienna camper (as opposed to a VW -I've had 3-) not worrying if it would make it to the next repair shop.
      Blessings 2 U 2,
      G

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  11. RE: Screens
    If you have steel around the windows go to one of the craft stores and pickup enough 1/2" magnetic tape to surround your window(s). It glues to fiberglass screening with gel type glues like GOOP and you can have custom shaped screens for your windows. I used it on the windows of a F 150 when I slept in the cab. It worked well for me as long as I wasn't trying to drive anywhere and I slept in some seriously mosquito laden areas too!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Belly of Blue,
      Your system sounds great. We just use the magnetic discs to keep our screens in place (about $4 for 10 at Walmart, 2 0r 3 sizes). It doesn't take long to put them up. Your method sounds like it goes up quicker but ours might store in a smaller space.
      g

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  12. Absolutely fantastic Glenn! I would love to see more photos detailing the construction. I have a 2006 Sienna and have been looking for ideas and inspiration to go beyond my minimalistic approach of sleeping on a pad on the floor and Rubbermaid bins. This is how I addressed the mosquito/midge netting on mine:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/6772837614/in/set-72157621867029259
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/6775828058/in/set-72157621867029259/

    I sewed a 2mm cord into the perimeter of the netting, in the shape of the front window frame. That keys into the weatherstripping and the door is closed. Then a tight fitting stick pins the bottom of the screen against the lower sill. The wind deflector allows the window to be cracked a couple of inches during rain and it works well though the ventilation is inadequate for the hot months in the south. I'll do something similar for the center doors though perhaps with Velcro or magnets.
    John Clay
    jmedclay@yahoo.com

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  13. I saw your blog and now own a Toyota Sienna. With all the positive response you have gotten, have you been inspired to publish your conversion plans? We are not blessed with your ability and need some help. Looking forward to hitting the road in style.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Crafty One,
      We think you'll have a great time converting your van into something you can camp in. We look forward to helping folks like you.
      My wife (Francesca) and I are travelling a lot this summer to places too far for our Sienna. When we return in August we can publish more information and photos. Specific questions? Our best e-address is bettermiami1@yahoo.com.
      Crafty Too (Glenn)

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    2. Hola Crafty,
      I added more information (and photos) to my conversion story today.
      Glenn

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  14. Nice work---especially the beautiful shelf unit next to the rear vent window. My Sienna has been modified for car-camping with a flat/level floor, shelves, spare tire storage in the seat well, curtains, a center console, and plywood storage boxes that double as a sleeping surface. Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listorama/collections/72157606113808923/ . Happy camping!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, there are many ways to build a camper. This version works great for us. Thanks for sharing and happy camping to you.

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    2. Hola Listorama,
      Thanks for sharing your plans. We prefer the more permanent set-up, I guess. Your "easy on the eyes" milk jug lamp is sheer genius!

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  15. You mentioned a trip on the Oregon Trail. Did you ever do that? I'd be interested because I want to do the same thing.

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  16. Wow Glenn,
    First I have got to say this is one of the most beautiful and well built examples of a 2 person camper from a minivan I have ever come across.
    It had been my dream to do this for years and I finally built my own this past summer to take with me while working in Northern British Columbia doing some tree planting. I used a system similar to your hinged to allow different setups and storage access but it was very rudimentary (milk crates were involved) and after seeing your great design I am strongly considering a renovation for next spring.
    I am wondering though where you do most of your cooking? do you use the table in front of the couch, remove that cushion over your basement, or simply use picnic tables?

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  17. Hello Aeryk,
    The "reply" option doesn't work today so I'll comment saying I'm glad you like our conversion. It's pretty simple but it works for us. To answer your question, we cook on picnic tables most of the time. We think the smaller the camper, the more time you get to spend outside and "outside" is where it's at. Right?
    We do some cooking inside in bad weather or if we want a late night cup of tea. Then we fire up the propane stove "in the kitchen", the shelf on the left side. It's just big enough to hold the stove.

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  18. I did something similar, but different with my Sienna. Since I still drive to work 5 days a week and need to carry 4 people in a street legal way, I took out the back seats, and built two storage areas. I then built a short table/platform that lines up with the back storage areas and can form a sleeping platform, when the middle seats are taken out for weekend camping trips. Some pictures are shown at:
    http://petersimmons.ca/category/minivan-conversion/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your ideas, Peter. Our van is just for camping and a backup when our other two cars are in the shop. I'm glad you can use yours for "everything". G

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  19. Very nice job i just bought a grand caravan and was looking for some ideas. Love what you got going on . Thanks for the tips

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    Replies
    1. I also plan on doing one with a grand caravan... I bought one that was modified for a wheel chair (the floor has been lower 10" and it has a ramp that folds out the passenger sliding door.
      I have stripped a few RVs and conversion vans, and have most of what I need to convert either the 2000 rp van or another van into a minivan RV. Just a matter money
      I aldo want to add a raised roof (high top) found one thats about $1100 new.
      Also want to tow a small cargo trailer behind it, with my generater, water, propane and fuel tanks.
      The ramp van, has had the fuel tank to the rear where the spare tire usually is, and the spare mounted inside, against the rear seat. So not sure if I can find a hitch that will fit it.

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  20. I have to visit this page frequently so I can use the knowledge I got here when I buy a Suzuki APV to travel with my future family. Nice blog!

    http://hunkrideradventures.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Hello HunkRider,
      I'm glad my blog was able to help you out. Our van has 110,000 miles on it now and we'll enjoy adding about 7,000 move this summer.

      Delete
  21. I have posted more pictures of what I did on Flickr:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/petergs/sets/72157633700840665/

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  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  23. I admire what you have done here. I love the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that is working for you as well. Do you have any more info on this?
    DU-104 Drums
    Tone

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  24. Dear Commenter Friends,
    When you write comments that ask questions I have no way to respond directly. Blogspot does not make this easy.
    If you've a question, just write directly to me, bettermiami1@yahoo.com. This address is in my blog too but it can be hard to find.
    Glenn, the Grove guy,
    Coconut Grove
    PS:
    Maryam- The only info I've published is in the blog. Go back to June 2011. That's where I write about building the camper.
    People are encouraging me to write a book about converting vans. I suppose I will when life slows down a bit.

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  25. Jeanne, Here are y answers to your e-mailed questions,
    1) No,we didn't insulate our van. We live in the South where
    it doesn't get too cold. When it is hot, we go north where it
    is cooler! We also use fans (plug-in and battery powered)
    at times. Insulation, I think, would take away a lot of interior
    space.
    2) I did not attach the shelves to the walls. They are a part of a ceiling-to-floor "shelf unit". This is screwed into the bed frame. All of it is wedged in between the two walls and it does not move at all while driving. I built it to "fit tight" and there's even little felt pieces to keep the wood frame from pushing the walls too hard or rattling. The many floor legs (and gravity) help it to stay in place as well. Happy weekend,
    Glenn

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  26. VW Campers are such a thing of elegance although the breaking down as you described could often be problematic. They almost take driving back to how it used to be. I don't know if you heard or not but the Brazilian factory that actually still produced them today is actually closing down so they will finally cease production. Sad day.

    Keith Johnson
    Stoltzfus-Rec

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  27. I've been camping solo in my minivan (Voyager) for several years. I took out both back seats and simply use a cot (springs are nice!). I store everything underneath. On the other side I have room for a potty (10 gal bucket with toilet seat top (Walmart) and garbage can liners), a folding bike, and an ice chest. A clothes bar holds my clothes and I push them to one side or the other as needed. I made curtains, but one problem I haven't solved is screens for the windows. Anyone have any good ideas?

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  28. MINI-VAN SCREENS: We cut plastic screen material to the shape of our four windows that open (you could do the back hatch as well). We make them 2-3" larger than the opening. When needed, we take them out of a storage bin, unfold them, and place them on the outside attaching them with magnets, available at Walmart and other stores. It doesn't look great but it works. No problem raising the windows when it rains too.

    I saw some one who had cut screens to window size plus an inch, folded the outside inch over (at the 1/2 inch point) with a rubber screen bead inside. He then sewed it up (whew!). He'd then stuff the edges into the window slots going around each open window. Crazy but creative just the same...awful when it rains at 2 a.m.

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  29. OH MY GOSH
    serious jealousy and wanderlust here
    i'm a 17 year old kid with a banjo, a puppy dog and a love for road trippin'.
    i think my first car is gonna have to be a van. i can still drive to work but then just go when i've got to.
    this idea was sparked a while back and every day i get more and more infatuated with it.
    thank you so much for these ideas and inspiration.
    you, sir, are awesome

    ~Abigail

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    Replies
    1. Abby, I don't know about me but I know YOU will be awesome if you put together your own road trippin' minivan. Imagine gliding along in your mobile home with your banjo, and puppy dog, cruising down a mysterious road not knowing what lies beyond the next bend.
      Exploring Northern California at the moment,
      Glenn

      Delete
  30. Thank you for the wonderful blog. It is indeed informative and useful We are into the same business. For know more about us, please visit HIRING CARAVANS OR CAMPER TRAILERS today.

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  31. Very good information in this blog .All our facility in this car good option so looks are very good and multi level van , thanks

    Central London Basements

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