How to build a camper from a van

Written by eric cedric
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How to build a camper from a van
Convert a van to make a small camping unit. (Gary John Norman/Lifesize/Getty Images)

RVs and camper vans often come with a modest to high price tag. But if you're on a budget, one alternative to get you out on the road and adventuring is to convert an old passenger style van into a camper van. Save even more money on this project by going to RV salvage yards to get the needed mattress frames, shelves or cabinets at reduced prices.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Socket wrenches and ratchet
  • Outdoor carpeting
  • Utility knife
  • Futon mattress
  • AC/DC cooler
  • Deep cycle battery(s)
  • Generator
  • Recycled RV cabinets
  • Sun shade canopy

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  1. 1

    Remove all the seat benches from the van. Most vans use large bolts to secure the seats to the floor and vehicle frame. Remove these with the ratchet and proper sockets. Store the seats and bolts in a dry and secure location should you wish to convert the van back to its passenger carrying ways.

  2. 2

    Measure the floor and cut out a chunk of carpeting in the same size. Cut out room for the wheel wells or any other odd shaped obstructions. Set the carpet on the van floor.

  3. 3

    Place the futon mattress in the back of the van, where it can stretch out to make the sleeping and bed quarters for the camper.

  4. 4

    Bring the cabinets into the van and arrange them against the side wall. Secure them to the floor with the power drill and bolts. Choose one to house the DC battery and generator. Store the sunshade awning in a location near the side doors. Use the canopy as an entry canopy for the camper van.

  5. 5

    Plug the AC/DC cooler into one of the van's cigarette lighter outlets when the van is in motion, and then connect it to the DC battery when the engine is off. Store the cooler under the cabinets or shelves to save space in the van.

Tips and warnings

  • Make curtains or sun barriers for the van's windows. This gives sun protection and privacy when camping.

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