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Home > Magazine > Motors > Easiest Minivan RV Conversion?

Easiest Minivan RV Conversion?
May 26, 2009

What would you think is the easiest way to convert a minivan into an RV?

Say you wanted to go live in your van, down by the river...

Or say you wanted to just make an action adventure country-touring vehicle.

For one or two people. And a few outdoor sports toys.

Now, you could just write away to one of the $5-10k add-on shops in Indiana and go pick up your finished RV minivan...

Or maybe there are some pre-made rigs and gadgets that you can pick up at a hardware store and repurpose to your nifty, thrifty RV use...

I'm thinking we start by getting a minivan we can take the seats out of. Then make a plywood bed that sits a foot'n'a'half off the floor and is positioned behind the driver's seat against the back door. You store milk crates of goodies under that, I suppose.

You screw a hinged 2-foot-long section of plywood to the short wall opposite the bed and a foot'n'half higher than the bed, with a prop stick under it, to make a counter-top.

To get a full length bed, you run your plywood right up to the driver's seat, so to fit a table in, you cut 2 feet off the end of the bed and add legs that fold down farther than the bed legs.

How to get room for two to sleep or eat? Well, the passenger seat perhaps needs to swivel... Are those available aftermarket? Or, maybe you can make a box that fits between the seats, letting someone sit there and access the table. To sleep two you use two sheets of plywood that both lay on the one bunk during the day. The 2nd one spreads out across the rest of the van at night and is supported by blocks screwed into the other wall.

How to exhaust the fumes when you cook on the counter? Well, you'd need to cut out a section of window and fit in an exhaust fan that you run via 12v power from your cigarette lighter. Actually, you cook with an alcohol burner, to give no fumes (just moisture vapor, right?), but you still want a fan to vent heat and smells. It's reversible to bring in fresh air on a hot evening.

An RV needs shades and screens, so when you park you can have privacy and fresh air without mosquitos.

Some kind of multi-gallon water jug can also fit down under.

You might want a 12v ammonia frig, or maybe just a cooler under the bed will do.

You might want a self-contained bucket potty (see West Marine---they probably have something).

But how accomodate standing up? I suggest a velcro'ed tent attachment that hooks to the van when the side door is open. The van can serve as one side of poles/support. I suppose that two flexible sectioned wand-poles crossing and tensioned against the top of the van could be used to pop-out a tent area to allow standing. For what that's worth. So why do you want/need to stand? I suppose to work on a bike, say, when it's raining... With a biggish screen tent you could have a card table and chairs. But where to store all that stuff when there's no company?

You'll have a roof-rack for stuff---a rocket box, boat, bike, etc. With a one-sided bunk set-up you can stash a built-up bike in the aisle for security or when you're driving, or just leave it there if one person is using the rig.

Well, just some notions.

Maybe you all know of some quicker, easier, niftier solutions.

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