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    Thread: Livable vans

    1. Member SleeperPrelude's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 12:52 AM #1
      So ever since discovering my buddy had an RV the whole time I knew him, and he never told me, I've been on this wierd obsession with livable vans. His is the kind with a Chevy van nose, probably late 80s, the whole things maybe only as big as a small UHAUL. It's dead for now, and acts as an extension on his house, power supplied by extension cords for lighting.


      I'm fascinated by how efficiently the available space is used, and love the idea of taking a long road trip/adventure/pulling off a-team stuff in one. I've even thought about what life would be like solely living out of one, inspired by the stories of a guy on another forum who did just that for 2 years for the challenge of it.

      So show me interior pics of vans for touring, camping, and general adventure, everything from Vanagons to Chevy conversions to custom-built Z-day vehicles (remember a few years ago someone posted a pretty cool one, very well-appointed inside for a Zed-crusher), and share any stories/experience you have.





      Last edited by SleeperPrelude; 11-09-2010 at 12:56 AM.

    2. 11-09-2010 01:02 AM #2
      So I was a biochemistry major in undergrad, and some guy in a lab down from mine lived in a vanagon for the two years I knew him.

      I would always see him heating up cans of food with Bunsen burners, or using the emergency showers when the student gym was closed. He said he was moving to Hawaii to PHD and to continue his lifestyle the last time I saw him.

      On the one hand, this guy got a lot of work done because he was not home playing Xbox. On the other hand, I would have considered the social aspect of his college experience extremely lacking; although only partially because of the constraints placed by the van.

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      11-09-2010 01:03 AM #3
      Sportmobile 4x4 Van:





      Unicat Amerigo:








      Not a van, but still cool.
      Last edited by Noisyninja; 11-09-2010 at 01:06 AM.
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      11-09-2010 01:08 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by sethgood View Post
      He said he was moving to Hawaii to PHD and to continue his lifestyle the last time I saw him.
      I had an English teacher in high school who worked as a cook in Hawaii in his 20's lived in a tree house.

      Sounds like it would be a ton of fun for a week and then lose its charm.
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    5. Member SleeperPrelude's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 01:11 AM #5
      Definitely cool, really nice inside.

      Just realized I could still get by with entertainment/contact to the world, being that my internet is through 4G wireless (clear), figure I can hook that up to a laptop and be okay, and I have a digital antenna on my TV (cable's nice, but not worth the cost for as little TV as I watch), both work pretty good. I'd need a smaller TV for the van though, lol.

      I'm 6'3" though, so I'd definitely need something with a pop-top

    6. Banned justanotherusername's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 01:24 AM #6
      Here's mine. I took the summer off in '07 and drove it from S. FL to Seattle (by way of TX) and back, over about four months. I put around 16k miles on it. I didn't use hotels at all, but I did make use of campground shower facilities when I could, to save filling/emptying the holding tanks.

      These Toyotas have 4 or 6 cylinders, compared to the V8s in almost all the van chassis RVs. They're slower, but mine gets about 14-16MPG, which is considerably better than most of the others will do. When you're looking at a long trip, it makes a big difference in the budget. I spent $6k in fuel on my trip, and it would have been at least 30% more if I'd went with a V8 in the same price range. This is about as small as you can go and still get a shower, and even then it's a "wet bath" were the ****ter and shower are all in one space. It does make it easy to take care of the three "S"s all at once though.

      I bought it for $4k, then put about $1500 in parts into it (rebuilt the top end of the engine, and added a nice inverter), along with a couple of weeks labor. I have considered selling it over the last couple of years, but I found time to use it a little last summer and realized how much I enjoyed it, so I think I'm just going to hang onto it.









      More:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/2670397...th/3800992735/
      Last edited by justanotherusername; 11-09-2010 at 01:27 AM.

    7. Member Kar98's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 01:28 AM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by SleeperPrelude View Post
      I'm 6'3" though, so I'd definitely need something with a pop-top
      Pop top, or high top:



      I lived in something like this for a year, in Germany. Except mine was blue, had aftermarket tilt out windows, a gas burner, 80 liter water tank, and that's not me in the picture.

      Let me tell you one thing: "down by the river" is a really dumb place to park. Hobos camp there, the water radiates chill, and if you happen to kill your battery, you're screwed.
      Last edited by Kar98; 11-09-2010 at 08:29 AM.
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      11-09-2010 03:06 AM #8


      My bandmates and I are probably buying this on Wednesday for a stack and change. A good tour vehicle is often your home away from home. This will be getting a lofted bed, caged off rear area for instruments/gear, carpeting, and some folding bench seats.

      7.3 IDI. I had one just like it before and it was cool until the infernally cursed E4OD melted it's input shaft seal.

    9. Member czykvw's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 04:52 AM #9
      This is a very interesting thread. Ive always thought about living in a van/rv and just paying for a spot by the beach.
      Always loved these but its not a van. GMC motorhome.

      prob gets the worst mpg, but it sure looks cool.

    10. Member esrballa's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 05:55 AM #10
      Tagged, interesting thread. Any links to that lifted Ford Econoline van conversion? Thanks.

    11. 11-09-2010 08:35 AM #11
      its good for a week maybe , add satelite dish for watching tv and maybe a few weeks if the weather is good and you can spend more outdoor time. Last week watson lake california, now covered in snow


    12. Member SleeperPrelude's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 09:45 AM #12
      All I know is the company's called Sportsmobile

      http://www.sportsmobile.com/

      Website kinda sucks but the infos there

    13. Member naturaldub's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 09:56 AM #13
      I would love to do this, great thread. It's interesting though, when I think about living in a van, I immediately associate it with being "down by the river" but then I think about all the people that live on boats and it's the complete opposite. I think I would like to retire to a boat. Maybe an RV. Who knows. Ramble ramble ramble. Boat. RV. Camping.

    14. Member redshift's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 11:04 AM #14
      When I bought my RV last summer, I went back and forth between camper van and trailer, eventually landing with trailer. They both have their advantages -- the camper van is self-contained, doesn't require a tow vehicle, easier to find space for, etc. I ended up going with the trailer because you give up so much space in the van for the driving area and you can unhook your tow vehicle if you need to go somewhere for the day and don't want to take "home" along with you.

      I looked hard at Dodge Sprinter-based Class B's though before I made my decision. Too bad they're extremely f***ing expensive.





      I still want to by an ex-FedEx delivery van someday and convert it to an RV.
      Last edited by redshift; 11-09-2010 at 11:07 AM.
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    15. Member 200HP4dr's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 11:15 AM #15
      I didn't own a van based, but I had a class A 33 foot Fleetwood Flair. It had the Chevy 8.1 litre in it and the thing would move for something of its size. We also got 6.5 mpg and that was with pulling a 16 foot trailer. It was quite comfortable, but it was nice to just drive an actual car after driving this rig for a few days.

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      11-09-2010 01:21 PM #16
      Very interesting thread. In for later.
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    17. Geriatric Member VegasJetta's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 01:42 PM #17
      This thread smells like rape...

      Anyone watch 'Chasing Classic Cars'?
      The guy just picked up one of these, I think it would make a GREAT camper, although not as small as the others in this thread.



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    18. Member RockWgn's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 01:57 PM #18
      I lived in my 38' motorhome for about 3 years after my divorce (hell, I was paying for it, I sure as hell was going to live in it). Wasn't too bad. Even mild winters were cold. The combination of the coach systems and the truck systems made for some issues. mainly electrical. Mine was pretty big with a slide and a basically full size bathroom with washer and dryer. It was still space efficient with cabinets and cubbies everywhere, but only about 380 square feet of living space. I even had room for my bikes and bowflex.

      I didn't drive around in it too much, once I found a "good" place to park it, it stayed there (I had already driven around the country for 6 months and put about 10K miles on it, I had had the experience). But it was easy to drive if you've ever driven any kind of truck before. The windsheild was the front, the mirrors were the sides and the display in the dash showed the rear view. 6-7mpg towing a car and fully loaded with a Ford triton V-10.

      The worse part was living in RV and trailer parks. It made for some interesting weekends. I wasn't much for boondocking it (not hooked up, out in the woods or down by the river). I had a 5.5kw generator, but i liked smooth level spots with shore power and water/sewer hook ups.

      I sold it and lost $7K to do it. Couldn't have been happier. If you do buy one or something similar, buy used, people are willing to unload them just to not have to find a place to park them. These photo's are from when I was selling it.

      RockWgn








      Last edited by RockWgn; 11-09-2010 at 02:07 PM.

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      11-09-2010 02:07 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by VegasJetta View Post
      This thread smells like rape...
      The thing is that she’s not gonna say no, she’d never say no…because of the implication.
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    20. Member kamzcab86's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 04:19 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by SleeperPrelude View Post
      So show me interior pics of vans for touring, camping, and general adventure, everything from Vanagons to Chevy conversions to custom-built Z-day vehicles (remember a few years ago someone posted a pretty cool one, very well-appointed inside for a Zed-crusher), and share any stories/experience you have.

      Except for the color and lack of A/C, ^that's what mine looks like. Last month I spent two weeks going to/from Utah, kayaking here and there, and would've spent more time if I could. In fact, I'd love to close up the house and hit the road for a few months straight.





      Lots of folks have lived out of their Buses and Vanagons for months, even years at a time. I love my Westfalia and you couldn't pay me to travel in a "mansion on wheels".

      One thing I've discovered traveling in a camper van is that you're in good company with the camping/small RV crowd (most are outdoorsy folks who are friendly), and fellow Westfalia owners give waves to one another. Most of the big RV'ers, on the other hand, are complete snobs.
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    21. Member KahviVW's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 04:42 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Noisyninja View Post
      The thing is that she’s not gonna say no, she’d never say no…because of the implication.
      Quote Originally Posted by rich! View Post
      i'd lock this thread but i have no clue how...

    22. Member jeff1234's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 04:45 PM #22
      Came for Chris Farley reference. Leaving disappointed.



      Those vans are pretty sweet. I wouldn't mind living in one of those by the river.
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      11-09-2010 04:55 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by jeff1234 View Post
      Came for Chris Farley reference. Leaving disappointed.
      Yeah, I can't believe it took that long, this place is slipping.

      My folks had an 87 westy and I did alot of camping and travelling in it back then. It was pretty
      underpowered and "tippy" on the highway, but I kick myself everyday for not buying it from
      them before they sold it.

      Wouldn't want to live in one though lol.

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      11-09-2010 04:57 PM #24

      Quote Originally Posted by rich! View Post
      i'd lock this thread but i have no clue how...

    25. 11-09-2010 05:09 PM #25
      I've had a secret lust for an RV of some sort for a long time now. I like traveling and exploring new places and hiking and such.... I just don't like sleeping in a tent in a sleeping bag on the ground.


      My biggest beef about the RV market as it stands today is the lack of intelligently designed small RVs. The Sprinter based class Bs are pricey, especially as they are almost all aimed at the high end touring market. The Sprinter based class Cs are also pricey as well and they aren't physically any more compact than their E-series based cousins. The older Winnebago Rialtas seem to be reasonably well packaged. I think a lot of the little RVs attempt to do too much on too little a floor plan. In a smaller RV I think I could do without a shower, though an easy to store and empty porta potty would be nice for rainy days at the campground. Same thing with kitchen... maybe just a convection/microwave oven setup and a small single or twin burner stove at the most. That an it seems that many RV builders just modify the cheap ready build cabinetry you find at Home Depot or Lowes.

    26. Geriatric Member ValveCoverGasket's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 05:25 PM #26
      couple buddies and i tried to buy a used rv to use for a road trip last spring... you meet the most interesting people selling used rvs (in our price range)... it was nearly reality tv-worthy the meth-addled characters we ran across

    27. Member czykvw's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 05:45 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by redshift View Post
      I still want to by an ex-FedEx delivery van someday and convert it to an RV.
      Thats an awesome idea
      those come in diesel right? my friends dad has one but its gas i think. And lives in it during the weekends when he goes surfing. he's got a place to sleep, watch tv and hangout. Portable cooking stuff. I know where he pisses (the ocean) but I never figured out where he sh*ts?

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      11-09-2010 06:05 PM #28
      I love old VW Westy campers and Vanagons, but they are getting on in years and most are going to need a bunch of maintenance/light restoration to be reliable and livable for any length of time.

      One interesting option would be to convert a Ford Transit Connect to a small RV. They look like neat little vans, would be easy to drive/park, and would get better mileage than a fullsize van-based V8 camper. I'd get a regular panel van version, so the windows could be put where I wanted, and go from there.

      Bookmarking this thread for later...

    29. 11-09-2010 06:11 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Mooosman View Post
      I love old VW Westy campers and Vanagons, but they are getting on in years and most are going to need a bunch of maintenance/light restoration to be reliable and livable for any length of time.
      And even those that do need maintenance and light restoration are freakin' expensive. People know they have a rare bird and they price accordingly.

      Ones in great shape needing little are priced

      You can go newer wit a Eurovan Camper but they're quite pricey and the VR6 + auto combo since 1997 can be a bit of a time bomb. I-5 MT ones from around 1995 are probably the best overall deal and compromise on price and mileage.

    30. Member czykvw's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 06:20 PM #30
      Came across this. Pretty good idea, I think. Never thought of it.
      Some retiree's bought a big rig as their RV.
      I wonder how the mpg is.

      "paid $56 thousand for this rig and says, "It's a much better and safer way to tow a heavy 5th wheel than a medium duty truck, cheaper too. I bought this truck for two reasons, safety and economics. It has great brakes designed to stop 80 thousand pounds and it is a joy to drive with air suspension and auto-shift.""

      http://www.rvtravel.com/blog/rvnow/2...emi-truck.html

      I cant imagine pulling up to a nice quiet reserve spot with this rig

    31. Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 06:30 PM #31
      How about a livable double decker with car carrier?





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      11-09-2010 07:39 PM #32
      Earthroamer XV-LT









      and my personal fav, Earthroamer XV-JK







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    33. Member czykvw's Avatar
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      11-09-2010 07:53 PM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by USN_JeepWK View Post
      $110,000 for a jeep? wow

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      11-09-2010 07:57 PM #34
      I got a 1987 GMC Vandura. 80,000k on the chevy 350 and runs mint. i havent camped in it yet but i would have no problems doing so. has sink, stove, microwave, 2 beds, toilet, shower and tub, and even the a/c unit on the top
      dont mind the mess














    35. 11-09-2010 08:19 PM #35
      I love the Earthroamers. C/D had a good article by John Phillips about the Jeep-based version.
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