BIG YELOW - a different kind of build thread

Here’s my build thread. This thing started life as a dhl cargo van, became a catering van, a moto van, and now a campervan.

It’s a 2006 4.6l v8 e250 with 150k on the clock now. I had a company in Long Beach chop the roof off and drop a fiberglass “super camper” top on. It murdered my gas milage but i have a lot of room for activities inside.

Everyone wants to know “how much did it cost”?

About $14k when i first built it in 2016.

  • van $3.5k
  • topper $5k
  • everything else to build an rv out of a rusty van $5.5k

It has a 2000w pure sine wave inverter and yup, I can charge my lacroix in here, although it will eat half my battery capacity.

Watch me rip shit apart and redo my previous work that just wasnt good enough

The van is seeing a significant amount of renovations as I’m moving into full time in 6 weeks. I’ve spent months travelling in this before, but never full time, so im trying to dial everything in to make daily life and working full time as comfy as possible in a 70 sq foot space.


One of the jobs this weekend. Switching large 100w panels with smaller 100w panels, and adding two more. 200w of solar is ok - 400w is great. I wish i had space for more but the starlink dish has gotta go somewhere on back.

Friday morning - the beginning state:

Fuck this shitty little fan. It is loud as fuck and it does nothing. Patching the roof with polycarb to make more room for solar.

Blank slate. All patched up with butyl putty a d lap sealant.

New panels going on the roof. Bolted thru with 1/4 bolts. I dont trust screws to hold things on my roof at highway speeds. Bolts make me feel warm and fuzzy.

Almost done. Time to clean up the butyl putty and seal it up with more lap sealant.


Bolt some foot bindings to the roof, just for the memes


Is it worth it / possible to use the extra panels on the side/back of the van and pull them out like a Murphy bed when parked?


Solar awnings :ok_hand:


Holy shit! This is awesome :clap: needs the captain America’s ramp for when traffic is bad park it and wheelie out the back with automatic closure doors/ ramp



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It’s definitely possible. I have see vans where they park and all they have to do is hit a button for a extra panels to deploy out like wings.

It’s a ton of hard work though and 400w should fit my needs.

I also have a b2b charger off the alternator. It’s pretty shitty at 20a, but I am charging up whenever I’m driving around too.



Super fun build. What’s your short/long term plans? Are you traveling for work or pleasure?


Pleasure. My relationship ended and I decided to end my lease and hit the road, visiting friends, surfing, esk8ing. I do work full time, so I’m trying to make this a comfy tiny home.

I’ve spent too much time living in sunnyvale. It’s time to see some new places.


Sounds like a blast. I’m just finishing my home projects and should be done by the end of summer. As soon as that’s over I’m going to buy a sprinter and convert it to travel Europe with the family and doge. Looking forward to the build as much as the trip


If you had the ability to start from scratch, what advice would you give yourself?


I have rebuilt the interior of the van several times. The points below get at many things I have redone since I first built the rig, or things I wish I could go back and change.

  1. Get a van with a bigger engine. More payload capacity and power while driving is worth the hit to mpg. My 4.6l is gutless, and only gets worse at altitude and climbing hills. 5.4l minimum, preferably v10. Adding to this - I would get a ford van again, but it would be an e350 instead of e250.
    All my friends with Sprinters have spent insane amounts of money on repairs, the parts cost twice as much, and if you break down there might not be a mechanic within hundreds of miles who is willing to work on it. With Ford gas vans - parts are abundant, cheap and everyone works on them.
  2. Queen size bed - no messing around with folding/converting bed bullshit. Side to side sleeping is miserable. Even if you fit, your legs and arms will smack the walls while you’re sleeping.
  3. Get a cassette toilet. They aren’t as bad as you think. Having a bathroom available at all times takes away a lot of stress. I have a thetford 5g, and use “happy campers” chemical powder.
  4. 15 gallons of water on board minimum.
  5. Get a Hightop that doesn’t murder the aerodynamics of the van.
  6. 400w solar + 200ah lithium ion batteries right off the bat. Also, add a second alternator to charge the battery bank.
  7. Get over the fact that unlimited data costs $100 / month. You are saving enough money on rent that the other expenses you incur are immaterial.
  8. “Stealth campers” are overrated. Nobody gives a shit about the guy sleeping in a campervan. I’ve had the van for 7 years and not once have I been knocked on in the night. Parking lots, side streets, residential, gyms, nobody cares.
  1. Add a well equipped mastabatorium, because let’s be honest, that’s what the data is for.

Let me know when you’re coming through Portland area. Happy to lend a shower :+1:


FTFY. :wink:


Wait, hol up, THE sunnyvale?


@zero_ads and I are right here in Sunnyvale

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Van update. I’ve been having trouble figuring out how I was going to fit my esk8 and surfboard in the van trunk without using all my storage space.

I ended up raising the entire bed by 2 inches so that the lacroix would fit on its side.

The surfboard bungee straps up to the bed.


Bed out

Ready to put a few inches under the slats.

Much better!