zenith electric ram promaster

Is electricity the future of Van living/camping?

Zenith Electric has made available an electric version of the Ram ProMaster cargo van.

It has an electric drivetrain, including a 180-hp motor and a 62.5-kWh bank of lithium-ion phosphate batteries and a list price of $89,500, that can be offset by a federal tax credit of $5,500 and perhaps other grants or credits. It removes the powertrains from completely finished vans from Chrysler, and installs the electric equipment.
Continue reading

Magazine Rack (2)

Enhance the Tiger Maple

Before continuing with the assembly, the three front pieces that are made out of Tiger Maple, need some ‘popping’, that is, enhancing the visibility of the curl in the wood.


Tools & materials required: Dye, sand paper and jar.


A little ‘Dark Mission Brown’ powder dye is combined with some distilled water.


The application of the dye to the wood is done with an old cotton rag. To that extend, the wood is sanded, starting with 80-grit paper, followed by 150-grit. As the curl absorbs more of the dye, after another sanding, the curl is visibly enhanced.


The larger bottom panel after a partial application of the dye.

The assembly is discussed in the third and final posting.

Magazine Rack (1)

Utilizing every available space is a priority; the area to the right of the rear side window is large enough to accommodate a magazine rack and is conveniently close to the bed. This will allow for some late night reading. Back to the workshop for some woodworking!

The main wood choice is again Cherry in combination with some Tiger Maple as a front panel.

After dimensioning and sizing the lumber, everything must be put together, including two extra pieces which are added to the side to act as a pen/pencil holder.

Continue reading

Monitor Console

Between the window and the side doors is a narrow strip of wall available to house a small console. It is the future location of the battery monitor and a reading light.


With a narrow piece of wood, the length of the console, placed against the inside wall, the curve of the wall is transferred to the wood. Back in the workshop the form is cut and adjusted to get a perfect fit.

04In the meantime, some wood is planed to a 1/2” thickness and the form is temporarily attached to it. With a straight-edge bit, the form is exactly copied to the wood. This and another copy are the two sides of the console.

Continue reading


Bed, Wall & Window

Before continuing with the other side of the van interior, it’s time to put the wall and window above the bed, back together again.
Two issues remain: the battery cables and the solar controller cable need to be installed. The other is the decision I have to make, whether to go ahead with batting as insulation or choose a foam product.

Despite some negative comments about the batting material, it has served me well over the years. On the other hand, spray foam would do a better job in filling all the little air pockets in the walls. Some people, however, have mentioned a squeaking noise while driving. Have you any thoughts about it?

4041The original wall panel is still around. The covering is removed and the plywood base is what we have to work with. I could copy it to a new, one-piece sheet of plywood, but it is in a condition to be reused.

Continue reading

Amazon store redesign

In the past 3-4 weeks, I have completely redesigned the Amazon Store at cargovanconversion.com. New layout, added features, more product reviews and newly included items.

All products pertain specifically to this Cargo Van Conversion and are/can be used during the construction and installation phases of this project.

New materials, appliances and tools will be added to the eShop as the construction continues.

You’ll get there by clicking on the rightmost button at the top of the screen or by clicking here.


12V Fan Switch

Recently a fan was installed to cool the solar components, like controller, battery charger, etc. As it is not necessary to run the fan continuously, a switch can regulate its use.

Radio Shack sells this 12V switch with a ground (+), a power (-) and a accessory spade.

Right now there is a wire running to the batteries, a 12V socket, the fan and the switch that have to be interconnected.
First the red (-) fan wire gets a connector.

102103After crimping the tiny wire, a little bit of solder is applied for an improved connection.

100For increased longevity of these joints, this assortment of heat shrink was acquired from Harbor Freight.

104The fan wire plug is finished by adding the heat shrink.

After adding all the required plugs to the different wires, we move from the workshop to the van to make the final connections.

Continue reading


Toilet Access Door

The last time I worked on the bed, the pull-out, sliding shelf was installed. Now I’ll continue with a door for the toilet compartment. In deliberating the hinge options, I came across a simple wooden hinge design, that looked appropriate for this application.

5051Under the built-in, slide-out shelf is just enough space to house the portable toilet. But the access door is still missing. With a hinge at the top, movement of the toilet is allowed towards the front and/or the back of the van, when opened. Space is at a premium and in this case there is only 1¼“ available for the top hinge.

52While figuring out the planned construction method, I stumbled upon a wooden hinge example that I liked. To give it a try, I started with a new tablesaw jig, that would allow me to repeatedly make the cuts between which the gaps will be removed.

Continue reading

110V Power Inlet


The van is internally a 12V system fed by solar panels, with some 110V outlets powered by an inverter. Only the battery charger needs access to an exterior power source. For this, a 15A power inlet is installed next to the rear door, on the passenger side of the van.


ParkPower 150BBIWRV 15 Amp White Power Inlet

25The area directly below the brake light is ideal, weren’t it for the fact that inside, that space is occupied by one of the rear speakers. The best location will be left of the bottom of the brake light.


34The instructions for the inlet indicated a 1-7/8” opening which required me to buy a new bi-metal holesaw. With all the tools at hand, I could start by marking the exact location of the hole.


67Because limited workspace inside, I was going to try to remove the brake light to have better access. Faced with some old seals, that I didn’t want to damage, I quickly decided otherwise.


89After some aligning and double checking, I marked the spot. As the location is very
close to the rear door, I made sure that the inlet could be accessed, while the door was opened.


1011Before turning to the holesaw, I drilled a small pilot hole.



With a starting point established, the holesaw went through the metal like butter.


1617It all worked out great. In less than half a minute, a perfectly round hole was established. Only a few rough edges remained.



A few minutes with a file, followed by my trusted sandpaper create a perfect finish.



Now the exterior fitting.


23And interior checkup.




28Final inspection shows that the extension cord is not obstructed by the rear door.


Since everything is a perfect fit, it’s time to put everything together.


29First cover the bare metal with some paint. I spray some paint in the cap of the spray can and dab it onto exposed metal.


30While the paint dries, I pull out the battery charger wire and prepare the components of the socket.


31First the outlet rear cover and the metal attachment ring slide onto the wire.


3233The wire is guided through the hole to the outside. I almost forgot a piece of heat shrink, but that is added before attaching the socket to the wire. The power inlet has a blank, black and green wire opening, as well as a silver, black and green connection screw, which makes it a foolproof installation.



The heat shrink is slid in place and heated for a perfect fit.


37After I applied Silicone II as a weather barrier, the socket is attached to the van with the metal ring on the back. Finally the outlet is capped with the included black cover.


3839Not necessary, but I also used the three included screws, mainly to cover the predrilled holes in the white ring.




The finished 110V power inlet.



Facebook IconYouTube IconTwitter IconVisit Our Google Plus PageVisit Our Google Plus PageVisit Our Google Plus PageVisit Our Google Plus Page