The Galavan

A Gal – Van Adventure!

Seeing the US in a custom Sprinter seeking real food.

Welcome to the Galavan, where you’ll find a documentation of my custom built Sprinter Van, links to other builds, and real food on the road.

The Galavan is designed (mostly by me in collaboration with my builders, Keith from MOD Eugene and Trevor from Luxury RV) to be a full-time home on the road for one (or sometimes two). My criteria are:

  • To have a traveling home that is as non-toxic and environmentally/human-friendly as possible.
  • To have everything I need to camp remotely for up to 7 days
  • To be able to prepare real food wherever I am
  • To have as comfortable, non-toxic bed as I possibly can
  • To be able to park just about anywhere – specifically any of the little parks along the Oregon Coast
  • To work remotely and see the country

 

THE VAN…

…is a 2015, 4 cylinder, Mercedes-built Sprinter cargo van (branded Freightliner) with a 170″ wheelbase and a hightop roof in Aqua Green. You can find option details in the build detail section.

 

Customization (aka build):

(Click on “The Van” in the menu to see detailed build notes.)

  • Fresh Water:
    • 40-Gallon tank plastic tank made by Custom Roto-Molding
    • Big Berkey for drinking water and it is awesome! Not sure where it will go, but it’s definitely going!
  • Water heating:
    • 4-Gallon Electric – Trevor ended up doing the research on this one. It works well.
  • Water Pump: (details to come)
  • Grey Water: 15 gallon tank with a garden hose connect to dump. I never have very much so it doesn’t take too long to dump.
  • Electrical System: 
    • 2x 4D Lifeline AGM batteries (200ah each) – would recommend Lithium Ion instead.
    • Magnum 2800 watt 12v Pure Sine Inverter
    • 2x 100 watt Renogy Monocrystaline solar panels (need two more)
  • Lighting:
    • Dimmable reading lamps in both B pillars and on both side of the back door
    • Recessed ceiling lights – one on either side of the fan
    • Floodlights at both doors on a swivel that can shine in or out of the van
    • Orange LED strip light at the sliding door
    • RGB (all colors) LED strip lights below each upper cabinet
    • White LED strip lights under the bed (closet) and under the sink
  •  Refrigerator:
    • Isotherm 130 = 4.6cf refrigerator/freezer – decided on this one for many reasons (after agonizing over this decision!). It has a compact footprint, looks amazing, super efficient – 430w/day, and eliminates the need for a separate freezer which saves about $440 and 160w/day. After using it for my first trip I’m SO impressed. The blueberries stayed frozen solid and the eggs just below the freezer were cold but not too cold. If you can afford it, I highly recommend this fridge. Another benefit is that it doesn’t care about being level.
  • Cooking:
    • Duxtop 7100MC from Amazon and it’s working great in the house.
    • I also got a SilverFire Survivor Rocket Stove because: local, cooking with twigs, no need for electricity.
    • And the appliance that changed everything, a 3qt Instant Pot! OMG – this thing is amazing! I almost never use my induction burner anymore. I can even bake in it (technically, I’m steaming, but the result is baked things).
    • Vitamix blender – I use this almost every single day. Smoothies, hummus, soup, pancakes, etc.
  • Cabinets are made out of ApplePly which is from right here in Eugene
  • Countertops –  Paperstone (in Leather) which are from WA state – was able to get remnants!
  • Flooring – Marmoleum (in Red Copper) also a remnant.
  • Drawer and cabinet pulls – I decided on the Southco Stainless Pulls which are all metal. Pretty sure they’ll last! The only problem with them is that the manufacturing variances were great and a lot of the screws didn’t fit. Many failed.
  • I got these great bamboo drawer organizers that fit perfectly for utinsels and “junk drawer”.
  • Walls and ceiling – Maple plywood with Tung Oil finish. I didn’t really have a strong opinion on this, although I think I’d choose Aircraft-grade Birch Ply if I were to do it over to cut down on weight.

 

BATHROOM:

  • The toilet is an oval bucket under a standard toilet seat in a box my builder made. I’ll use Poo Powder and bags to deal with the waste. I also have a P-Style (where have you been all my life???) and wow! What liberation!
  • I have an external shower off the back. I found an awesome looking shower mixer and handheld shower head. This works really well. The showerhead gives a GREAT shower and the mixer valve allows me to use very little water – you set the temperature (in celcius) and there’s a separate knob to turn the water on and off.  I supplement that with sponge baths in the sink, showers at friends’ homes, and rec centers and gyms. I might get a gym membership in the future – probably Planet Fitness. I prefer the rec centers so I can get in a swim. 

 

COMFORT:

  • Camper heat – Espar D2 diesel heater. It is great! It’s installed under the passenger seat and is pretty quiet and really heats up the place.
  • Ventilation – Fantastic Fan 1250. I was wanting the Maxx Air and do wish I’d gotten that, but the place I was having install it used the Fantastic Fan. My builder has now installed a cover over the Fantastic Fan so we’re all good, but still… hindsight!
  • A/C – Coleman Mach 8 Cub – it is really efficient for an air conditioner and is only 8.25″ high. We’ll see how much I use it – I’m thinking it won’t get used much, and if that’s the case, I might pull it out and replace it with a skylight…
  • Windows – CR Laurence OEM look tip outs from Van Specialties in Tualatin. It’s really the only thing I’m glad I had Van Specialties do, and even then, I had to take it back up because the one on the drivers’ side leaked.
  • Window Coverings –  I’ve made insulated window coverings with a dark purple on the outside and a cool raw silk from 1950s Korea on the inside.
  • Insulation – this seems to be the most controversial topic in Sprinter conversions! I used Thinsulate. I don’t know if it’s the “best” option, but at some point, you just have to go with it! I loved working with it and highly recommend it. For the floor I used Cross Linked Polyethylene from the Foam Factory.

 

 

A note on links. All of the links are for your convenience in sourcing your own things for your build. If the link is an Amazon product, I get a small thank you for putting this all together for you in the form of a small commission.