SurfVanCampVan Build Evolution

For this you wil need a small compressor and a stapler and a set of corner blocks or these clamps from Rockler. Glue the dados, set the bottom and top in the sides. If you have done a good job on your dados you will need to tap them in with a rubber mallet and staple together. Set the plywood with the clamps. Afterwards staple and do the other side. The finished product looks good even with lower grade ply.

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How’s the build coming along so far?

How many days in are we?

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Making progress, starting to work on refinements. Like this storage tray at the head of the bed for iPhones, glasses, Rx, tissues, etc.

My wife and I are camping in Santa Barbara this weekend. Not hard core, mostly just a place to sleep. She can give me input on what changes are needed. Some of the inconveniences are based on the small space of the Sprinter 144, and the 10" false floor for storing (4) longboards.

I added a front receiver and a ladder from Aluminess. The receiver needed an adapter to lower the bike rack, otherwise the driving visibility was obscured.

I will be updating again soon. Starting the electrical next.


Getting serious about the electrical system. This is a piece of 3/4 inch azek. It will be mounted in a cabinet space on aluminum channel so it can be slid out for maintenance.

It will fit in this space with the battery at the bottom.
The electrical layout with tape is not the final layout. It is an example but the electrical paths as shown were an early revision. Not to be replicated as a working system

The Stirling BB1260, the Victron MPPT and shore power connection will all be housed behind the front seat along with a small breaker box.

Big thanks to Garret @amsolaroregon, Antoine @faroutride and Rod at MarineHowTo/compassmarine for helping me get to this point.

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This is awesome! thanks so much for sharing in so much detail. Really helped out.

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The electrical layout with tape is not the final layout. It is an example but the electrical paths as shown were an early revision. Not to be replicated as a working system

Preparing to mount solar panels on my Yakima racks. I couldn’t find an example of how to so I developed an adapter using 80/20 materials. I have a video on my IG account @SurfVanCampVan. I will add a photo later

Then I learned how to build cables and cabled the main components of the electrical system.

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How much solar power wlll you have ?

Two (2) 115 A Zamp panels.

Getting closer on the electrical. Here is what the main electrical closet will look like.

The battery goes in the bottom. It is on wheels

The mppt, shore connector Sterling 1260 and a fuse box go in a small cabinet behind the front seat (not pictured)

The source leads come in the back at the bottom

the electrical cabinets are made of Azek (cellular pvc) for reduced risk of fire.

and the leads to the ac and dc fuse boxes will go out the back at the top

Not ready for a test yet, but getting closer. Lots of help from Garret at AM Solar

Bob Sergeant

(609) 760-0900

I have not posted for a while. But here is the results of phase one. Just a little trim work remains.

Behind door #1 is a safe
Behind door #2 is electrical
Behind door #3 is cold beer

Phase two will include heat and water etc. but that will be secondary to surfing

As you can tell I do not log on often. The total build time was a little more than 6 months. A little longer if you count the early revisions. I still have more to do but this is complete enough for now. I still have to decide on heat and water. I am trying to avoid propane and minimize cutting holes in the van. So far only one for solar cables. Back to surfing for now


Switching from propane to kerosene was a very positive move for me. I have kerosene heaters, cookers, and lanterns. Nice safe, dry heat. If I didn’t spend winters in extremely cold places, my cookers would probably provide plenty of heat.

For hot water, for most instances I’ll either use sun heated water, or heat it on my stove. If I need a larger quantity, I have a fire coil similar to a Zodi. It will work on a campstove, my heater, or even with a campfire. Among my luxuries, I have an inflatable boat that I also occasionally use as either a bathtub or a hot tub. If I’m near water, I can fill it with hot water using the fire coil. Heavenly. Once it is full, I can recirculate the water through the fire coil to keep it hot for as long as I wish. Nothing quite like relaxing under the stars in your own hot tub, even in the snow, and my boat is big enough for two if I have company.

The one I have is called a BoundaryTEC ShowerCoil:

I got it cheap at a campground supply store somewhere along the line. It has a flow control valve to regulate the temperature of the water. I really like it. My cast iron skillet holds in place nicely on my stove, so I can cook dinner and make hot water at the same time. Very convenient for me.

Many years ago I had a 1961 VW Westfalia, that had an alcohol stove that was one of the most ingenious I’ve ever seen. It had a water coil built into one burner, and you would close the lid and it was also a cabin heater. It did everything, cooking, hot water, and area heating, and did it well and did it cheaply. It was also a multi fuel stove, alcohol, kerosene, diesel, or even veggie oil. The fridge/freezer was equally multi fuel. Oh, for the good old days. Sure wish they’d bring some of that stuff back.

Once upon a time the old campers had gravity heaters that required no power too. Camping and staying comfortable didn’t require any power back in those days, only fuel. Beat the hell out of more modern stuff, and it was both simple and reliable.


"Those who believe money can't buy hapiness, don't have either." ~ An Anonymous Vandweller

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IThe front of the van “campvan” has been documented. Here is the back of the van “surfvan”. Fortunately I do not have to live in my van especially in a cold climate. It is primarily a daily driver that supports my surfing and is used for camping.

Today I decided to replace some flooring with Azek and add the prototype kitchen. As designed it is modular so taking the garage area apart took about 15 minutes

The empty garage under the bed photo would not load.

Here is the garage with one section of false floor

Here you an see the chain/camper hold down

Add another section of false floor and four longboards two with fins, two without

Now a divider is added to contain beach umbrellas, chairs, a pop up canopy and camp rug

Finally a prototype roll out kitchen with open storage in the center

15 minutes and it goes from surfvancampvan to haulvan

Once I got the roof vent in place I could install the roof top deck.

New kitchen almost done.

#1 wheels work great when you can’t afford $$$ for glide hardware,

#2 Rolls great in both directions,

#3 bolt in the kitchen cabinet,

#4 holds my barbque grill between that and the kitchen will go the water system

#5 slides for the Coleman stove and toaster oven next is pots, pans and cast iron,

#6 lock it in so it doesn’t roll,

#7 a little shelf and paper towel holder. Doubles as a seat, a step up into the bed and is topped off with marine hdpe cutting board material

IT IS Done!! Surely there will be additions like a passive solar ABS hot water system and who knows what else
But for the intended functions @surfvancampvan is done

The kitchen worked out great. If all I want is coffee I can make coffee and not open the full kitchen. Just bring down the GasOne single burner, access water for coffee at the end of the kitchen make coffee and get on the road.

The kitchen has a quick kitchen for just making a sandwich or a full kitchen if you need to use the pullout Coleman stove or toaster oven

The back of the rollout kitchen gives access to the barbecue grill.

The water system worked out really well. I have 14 gallons in (2) 7 gallon Aqua-trainers.

I had read about occasional leaks, so I built a water proof tray out of 1/2 inch Azek with a drain pipe so if I have a leak while driving it won’t flood the build area.

I thought about building a pump in a pelican box but then found the Yukon XL on demand pump on Amazon. It was expensive, but I got tired of building stuff. It works great, it is quiet and I can remove it from the kitchen and use it with passive solar hot water system for showers and get water pressure without having to pressurize the hot water storage

It took a year working off and on. But it is now at a stage of completion that it meets all design requirements except for hot water. Some day I might put 12v underfloor heating, but here in Southern California it is not a necessity. Sleeping bags will do if we are in a cold climate