Part 2 – Sprinter Van Build Out

In May of 2016, Jonathon drove the van up to Seattle so that he could work on it with my brother-in-law Joe. Joe has a huge shop at his house and owns and knows how to use every tool known to man. Their first task was to put walls up. They used 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch plywood for the majority of the walls. We bought some auto interior upholstery from the Seat Cover Co. in Salt Lake City and glued it on to the plywood. We decided on carpet so as to help with moisture management. We also carpeted the ceiling wall. Except on the ceiling we used fiberglass and not wood to help manage moisture. The remainder of the walls, we stained and sealed. We actually haven’t completed the sliding door wall and are hopeful that it will just magically complete itself!

Joe mentoring Jonathon in the shop

After completing the walls, the boys got to work on building the kitchenette, bed frame, and storage area. For the kitchenette, we created a space with a large drawer, a small cabinet and an area for the fridge. We bought a nova kool 3500, an 85 L super-low energy fridge. This fridge holds a ton of food, plugs into our battery pack via AC power, and is super quiet. It can also be powered via DC and we have recently wired it into our battery via DC power so that we use less power to keep it going. The temperature can be adjusted to a variety of settings and there is even a little freezer. We also ordered a houzer sink, a simple on/off faucet and water pump. Joe installed a simple toggle switch to turn our water pump on and off. We used an aluminum material for the counter top because it was cheap and easy to clean up. As of now, we are using a portable propane Coleman stove so that we can move our cooking scene from inside the van to outside. However, we are considering getting a diesel stove in the future. More to come on that…

sink with cutting board attachment
I really like the compressor!

The cabinet is located under the sink and holds our water tank and waste tank. Our water pump is mounted to the wall under the sink as well. We used a couple 6 gallon plastic jugs that we bought at a RV store in Seattle to hold our water and waste water. We have had some issues with our water pump leaking and there is actually a small crack in our water pump right now so we will need to replace it at some point in time.

View of the inside of the cabinet

We built the bed about 3 feet above the floor so that we could have plenty of storage underneath. We initially built a platform that was too short for Jonathon so we added extensions on both sides of the bed to make it longer. Like many others, we bought a king size piece of 4 inch memory foam from Amazon and cut it to fit the size of our bed. During cold nights, it can be rather firm but otherwise it is pretty comfortable. To make it softer, we put some egg crate padding on top of it and that has seemed to help.

Making the bed frame

On the front side of the bed there are a couple shelves that hold our batteries and other miscellaneous items. On the back side we built a large drawer to hold climbing gear and some other storage compartments. We created a sliding shoe rack to hold all of our climbing shoes and also mounted a shoe rack that we purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond (and cut in half) to the back doors. Apparently, we love shoes! One of the storage compartments we created is long and narrow and intended to hold skis. But in the non-skiing months, it is perfect for our camp table and chairs. We also created a spot to hold our spare 6 gallon water tank. There is tons of other storage to hold extra back packs and climbing gear we don’t need on a regular basis.

shoe holder
Storage shelves on the front side of the van
Storage shelves on the back side of the van
Another view of the storage on the back side of the van


We purchased a couple items from R & B components. This company creates all sorts of customized parts for sprinter vans. They even make pre-cut walls. We bought a couple pre-made mesh pockets that we mounted to our kitchenette, bottom of the passenger seat and the top of the back doors. These aren’t very cute but they are perfect for storing books and other miscellaneous things. The big ticket item we purchased from R & B components was a shelf that could be installed above the driver and passenger seat. There is a ton of head space in this area of the van and this is the perfect way to utilize all of this space. I can still stand under the shelf but Jonathon can not fully stand under it. The shelf can hold up to a couple hundred pounds and we use it to store food and other random items. The shelf was definitely a little tricky to install but it comes pre-cut with the exact screws needed to install it. We are definitely psyched about this purchase!

Small pockets above the bed for organizing and holding things
Large shelf above the driver and passenger seat

We hired a carpenter in Salt Lake City make some cabinets for our van. Chad Parkinson did a beautiful job on the cabinets and they really complete the set up. They are made out of cherry and have sliding doors that close with magnets. We store food and dishes in the one above the kitchenette and clothes in the ones above the bed.




Magnets to keep the cabinets closed

We ordered black out shades for the front and back windows from the on-line store Euro Camper.

Black out shades

After a couple cold nights, we decided to have Thermoking in Salt Lake City install a diesel heater (The Espar D2). They installed it under the passenger seat.  We haven’t had a chance to check it out but are really excited about the prospect of heat for our upcoming November trip!

IMG_0311 copy.jpg
Espar heater vent


Heater controller that is mounted on the cabinet near our bed

The only things left to do are to make curtains for our windows, panel the sliding glass door, possibly get a stove installed, and maybe make a table that can be stealthily stowed away. But I’m sure something else will come up. We have come to realize the van (aka Suzy) is a never-ending project!

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