2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 144 WB 3DR Passenger Van with High Roof
2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 144 WB 3DR Passenger Van with High Roof.
It all started with the decision to homeschool our 10 year old son.
Homeschooling created flexibility and freedom from the traditional school schedule. In turn, this opened up travel options throughout the year; not just during school holidays.
When the opportunity to acquire the van came about, we proceeded feverishly and after securing its purchase, moved ahead with building out the interior to suit our travel needs.
I executed the build-out in my cabinetry woodshop here in San Francisco, using the skills I've developed over the last 20 years working in cabinetmaking, carpentry and design.
The first version of the build is basically the same design as what's on offer now.
The initial build was to about 80% completion, after which we loaded up and headed down to LA for a family week long road trip. This break-in trip was crucial to fine-tune the design and function to ultimately meet our needs for more extensive travel.
We took a few more long weekend trips before dreaming about a cross-country road trip over the next summer.
Leading up to this road trip I re-imagined the overall concept of the van and what was required to sustain an enjoyable road trip with our family of three in a small van.
Our idea was to build a van that met three essential requirement's:
1- To move us around comfortably, reliably and economically.
2- To house us during the night in comfort.
3- To enable us to live within. This meant being able to prepare and eat food, keep a basic level of hygiene and to free us from being tied to public toilets. Essentially, having a toilet and sink with running water.
The lack of shower was overcome by weaving into our road trip schedule, visits to community centers with swimming pools. This was an amazing by-product of not having a shower, as it exposed us to regular, relaxing exercise and connected us with the local communities we visited during our trip.
The biggest requirement I had for the van was making sure it didn't look like a camper van or RV.
More commonly referred to as Stealth Van, it looks like a regular passenger van and can therefore be parked anywhere and slept in. This option removed the necessity to stay in designated RV parks or campgrounds.
During our travels, we have parked and slept in a variety of locations. From the middle of cities to the middle of fields, in the middle of nowhere. It's a liberating feeling and ultimately frees you up to travel without restriction. When you get tired, you pull over and sleep.
The final pre-road trip refit included removing the complete build-out, removing the side wall panels and ceiling to facilitate the installation of the insulation system.
Instead of replacing the existing door skins and ceiling, I continued the natural wood theme by using 1/4" maple veneered plywood for the side panels and T&G western red cedar on the ceiling.
I redesigned the function of the stove, added counter space to the kitchen area, installed two drawers in the kitchen, installed a power inverter, extended my son's sleeping loft and overall fine-tuned the van to its finished product.
Our 9,400 mile-6 week road trip from San Francisco to Boston and back via Canada was an experience of a lifetime!
With our son growing taller, we have essentially grown out of the van.
We are looking forward to passing our creation on to the next adventurous people.
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