Hey, I need advice

Hey. I’m a retired park ranger who wants to hit the road.

I just bought a 2000 Ford Econoline E150. It’s a custom passenger van.

My plan: Leave the rear bench seat because it has seat belts for three and it folds down into a bed.

I want a solar panel to power a max air fan, outlets and inside lights.

I plan for the kitchen to be very basic: Sink, jugs for fresh and gray water. Propane stove. Dometics fridge.

Question: Does it make sense to pull out the paneling? Everyone says leave it because of the wood panels. But the upper cubbies are useless.

I’m looking for suggestions and insight.

Greetings & Welcome!

Only the promoters who prey on newbies advise to strip stuff out. Generally it’s very very bad advice.

On many conversion vans, people will build bigger cabinets over the top of the existing ones, leaving the originals as cubbies within the new larger cabinets. You might be surprised just how handy those little cubbies are. They’re actually a great fit for many things like spices, toiletries, Band-Aid’s, box of garbage bags, napkins, coffee cups, a place to charge your phone, and much more. I often find little things that I wish I had a small dedicated space for…

If you’re going to be driving much, I’d hold off on the solar for starters, and see if an isolator to charge while driving isn’t enough. Much cheaper, easier, and more reliable. Instead of solar, I find a cheap generator combined with a battery charger to be much more useful. Solar in the winter is often pretty useless in many parts of the country, and doesn’t work well in the shade during the summer either.

Since you have opening windows in the back, a roof vent isn’t needed. A good fan will give you better air circulation for a fraction of the price. Mine have about the same size & shape of the roof vents, and move a similar amount of air. Wow, looks like the price has more than doubled since I got mine, but here’s a link on Amazon. I really like mine, AC/DC/Battery:

Everybody has their own preferences, but I don’t have any built ins for my kitchen, just an empty counter top / workbench / desk. I use dollar store rectangular plastic dishpans for sinks, and portable camping style stove burners. This allows me to use my kitchen inside or outside without duplication. I use dollar store trigger spray bottles for water delivery, one with fresh water, and one with a little dish soap in it, either of which can be placed in the sun to provide hot water with no power required. If necessary, I can also heat them up on the stove in a pan of boiling water. I purposely don’t have any plumbing so I don’t need to worry about it freezing.

12v fridges tend to be power hogs, I find plain old ice chests, or 3-way fridges to be a much better choice. I got my 3-way from a salvage yard for $50. No electricity required in fuel mode, and no fuel required if electricity is available. The best of both worlds, and unlike compressor fridges it is also totally silent.

I might suggest having your own toilet & shower too. I really appreciate having my own, and it’s really cheap as well.

Do yourself a huge favor and put sliding doors on all your cabinets. They stay shut while driving, and you can open them when other stuff is too close to open a swinging door conveniently.


"Wherever I may roam, I always take my home." ~ Van_Dweller

Excellent advice. So much good info. TY!

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What do you use for a shower without plumbing? Is it an inside shower?


My shower is portable, so I can use it either inside or outside. The enclosure consists of a hula hoop, and shower curtains & hooks, all from the dollar store. This can be hung from the ceiling, or from a tree outside. It is also my toilet enclosure.

I’m using a under the bed plastic storage container to catch the shower water, and a manual pump weed sprayer with a kitchen sink sprayer attached to the hose for the nozzle. I have it painted black so I can sit it in the sun and have free hot water, or I can heat the water myself, if none is available when I want it.

I’m normally parked at a city park when I shower inside my van. I put the shower water, usually under a gallon, into a garden watering can, then water some of the shrubbery at the park with it. During the winter, I dump it into grey water jerry can, and empty it about once a week into a toilet somewhere handy.

I do the same with my sink water, if I’m not somewhere I can just toss it out the door.

You can get 12v, battery powered, or rechargeable shower pump kits or weed sprayers, but I prefer the manual type that requires no power. I don’t want the possibility of being without power to negatively effect my lifestyle in any major way.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein