Van Conversion with New Ideas

Each time I travel with my RAM Promaster 1500 low roof van, I seem to think of new ideas or projects. If you missed my earlier blogs about my converting this cargo van to a travel van, click here.

Two easy things to do…

One of my easiest ideas: purchasing 2 YETI Hopper Flip 8 Soft Coolers. I store what I plan to eat within the next day or so in one cooler. It sits on one of my sliding drawers in the back of the van. Remember the day of installing the sliding drawers? Here’s that van conversion work at this link. The other cooler holds food I plan to eat in a few days. It sits in the interior of the van. As a result, everything stays cold longer. The big plus is not needing to buy ice so often! With both coolers I have a foil piece on the inside cover of the cooler (those you receive perishables in from some companies). I like the foil also to separate some items I do not need on ice, but still to be kept cool.

Cooler with foil piece

The other ridiculously easy idea was to dry sweaty stuff. I do have a clothesline along my bed’s edge and I can string another line from one part of the interior roof to another. But the small items like bike gloves and socks were always falling off the clothesline, until I realized another idea! I flipped my small camp chair over and hung items there. Perfect!

Small stuff dry here!

Other ideas combine here….

My travel van has no additional heat, air conditioning or electrical outlet and all of that is okay. I refer to my van as a “glorified tent” because my sleeping area is above where my bicycle is mounted and no tent could accomplish that. You may remember my sleeping area is screened in. If not, check this link.

I began to think about charging my portable power station: a Goal Zero Yeti 150 while at a campground since electrical hookup is available and I like to plug my electronics into it while out in the field. Yet I did not want to be carrying the 12 pound power station around just to charge it at the campground. Could I find a place to keep it in my van and still plug in at the campground?

I realized some nights are very warm in the van and I may even have hotter nights to come. How could I charge my Goal Zero and run a small fan to move the air across my sleeping area? After some thought and purchase of a fan, an electrical extension cord, and some small hooks, I had an idea. I would run the electrical cord under my bed, on the side of the van where most campgrounds have their electrical post, and connect with my Goal Zero. My power station will sit on the bench I built inside the van. The fan is velcro-ed to the wall of the van and plugged into my Goal Zero. My needs have been met!

Electrical cord along the side of van and blue bag holds the bulk of the cord.
The fan blows over the bed and its cord goes down to Goal Zero.

Do I have a trip coming up? Yes … on the road to northwest USA! Follow my travels here at or maybe I will see you down the road! Safe travels all!

Retiree in Action: Part 6: Sliding Drawers … My Van Project Nightmare!

Will I survive this van conversion! Why did I have this bright idea of installing sliding drawers rather than simple built-in shelves? What was I thinking?

Most of my camping gear is stored in milk crates. One with backpacker stove, fuel, pots and pans on one side and paper towels, dish towels, etc on the other side. Another milk crate with cans or envelopes of food, coffee, tea bags, water bottles, etc. On 2 of the 3 drawers I plan to have a small Yeti cooler and 2.5 gallon water jug. The third drawer is a table top … another bright idea of mine … in case I want to have a table off the end of the van. Not having a tailgate as I did with the Honda Element I thought this would be helpful. Time will tell.

I did purchase a mini Kreg pocket hole jig and took time to figure it out. My thought was I needed stronger drawer joints since weighted items will be in the drawers. Pretty cool tool once you get the hang of it! (It would have been helpful to have this tool earlier in the project; oh well!)

I thought I was almost done with the drawer slider set-up when the top 2 drawers were done. They were not pretty but did work. Unfortunately when I installed the third drawer the top two were no longer in their track! Damn! Honestly I cried … so much hard work had gone into this entire project; I was not ready for any problem right now! I was tired of the work and wanted to be in nature for hours, not here looking at my crappy woodwork!

Do I know my error? Yes. In saving on wood weight I decided not to build a complete box which would have made everything square. Fortunately the next day when I was to solve the issue for the top 2 drawers it was raining here in Arizona … perfect time to work on my taxes and other computer work. Plus not looking at any of the van work needing to be done was a nice break in the action!

The next day I had to face reality and figure out how to get the top two drawers to work within their tracks. Fortunately my partner offered additional hand-holding of shims, etc so we could figure a way to have it all work. Frustration continued when we would think we were done and another drawer would be off track! Four hours later all drawers were in! No one touched them as we decided “time for dinner”! Yup, dinner with glass of wine was well deserved! We do have our priorities! 

They are not pretty, but they do work!