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Sleeper Sleeper: Toyota Sienna Campervan Build

Discussion in 'Quitters' Club' started by Boyink, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. Jan 31, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Sep 20, 2002
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    minivan.jpg

    I'm not sure how quickly this will progress but figured I'd start a build thread anyhow.

    Goal:
    A weekender campervan capable of supporting two adults for 3 nights, while still serving as our daily driver during the week.

    MsBoyink and I both work for a rural weekly newspaper which means getting away for any length of time is impossible. But, we can often swing a half day on Friday using comp time or spend a vacation day and take the whole day off.

    Gas is cheap. I hate both the culture and cost of hotels. We are experienced at overnighting in Walmarts, Cracker Barrels and other places from our eight years as fulltime RVers.

    We wanted a rig comfortable for either one of us to drive and one that will visually be stealthy. We're envisioning trips within a 4-5 hour radius of our home in SW MO. We foresee a combination of "urban exploration" (antique stores, museums, etc) and outdoorsy trips to state and national park areas. We may add a tandem bike or kayak to the mix.

    I'm good at overbuilding and overthinking things, so I'm going to try and do this build as minimally as possible. I'd rather start simple, use it a time or two, and make improvements as we go.

    Basic plan:
    • Fullsize bed or close to it (I'm 6'3", but am used to sleeping with my toes hanging off if need be).
    • Yeti type cooler
    • ~ 5 gallons of fresh water storage / sink
    • Storage for 3 days of clothes and food
    • 12v roof fan/vent
    • 2nd "house" 12v battery
    • Curtains or window "plugs" for privacy
    • Cassette toilet/"human litterbox" or similar solution
    I'll create a 12V plan that allows for solar charging but am actually hoping to avoid it. The main electrical drag will be the 12v fan. In our 5th wheel we ran one almost constantly but I'm not sure if that will be the case in the smaller rig.

    We chose a '08 Toyota Sienna as our base rig based on input here. It also seems like the most popular base vehicle for mini-campervans with a number of YouTube videos from different owners, and even some aftermarket companies building custom kits for them.

    Next up - removing the 2nd and 3rd row seats and deciding on a floorplan.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2021
    ITLKSEZ, Jw60 and Fireball like this.
  2. Jan 31, 2021
    58 willys

    58 willys Sponsor

    Millsboro, Delaware
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  3. Jan 31, 2021
    Snoops

    Snoops If I could get over the vertigo, I'd be done! 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Idaho
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    Ah, just saw this post, please ignore the Ekko comment. Looking forward to see what you come up with :watch:
     
    Boyink likes this.
  4. Jan 31, 2021
    Jw60

    Jw60 Perfectly Within Tolerance 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Sedalia MO.
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    Do you need the roof vent? Seems like cracking a window would be less conspicuous. Is there a moon roof?

    My wife has wanted to gut an old airstream and modify IKEA furniture for the interior.

    Wild idea... roof top storage box as a pop top.
     
  5. Jan 31, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Yea, sometimes the air isn't moving outside and the fan helps a lot with comfort. Also if we end up cooking inside it will help get rid of the moisture. It'll also keep the windows from fogging up on a on a rainy day.

    These friends of ours did a nice job on their Airstream renovation: Tiny Shiny Home - Full-Time Travel, Family Adventures, Airstream Renovation & Off-Grid Living

    I'm trying to stay away from anything on the roof besides a bike or kayak. Just don't want to draw the attention.
     
  6. Jan 31, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
    Joined:
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    Uh yea. Ekko starts at $163,662.

    Hoping to get this rig setup for what the sales tax amount would be on that....:rofl:
     
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  7. Feb 25, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
    Joined:
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    Not much to show yet. I've been looking at other van builds to get ideas but it's been too cold to get started.

    I did spring for a new floormat up front - never paid $150 for a floormat before, but the cheapies from Walmart didn't cover to the door opening. This is a one-piece full across model from WeatherTech.

    van - 1.jpg
     
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  8. Feb 25, 2021
    durangotang

    durangotang Member 2021 Sponsor

    Not Western CO
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    I like it... Siennas are nice. If you need some ideas of what can be done, check out a guy on Youtube called Foresty Forest. He recently got a bigger van, but lived quite well in a minivan that was set up better than most homes. Cool guy too.
     
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  9. Feb 25, 2021
    SoCalNickG

    SoCalNickG Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Los Angeles, CA.
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    I have WeatherTech in two cars and really like them. I wish they had a laser measured mat for my 03 Dodge.
     
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  10. Feb 25, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    I came across one of his videos (I've been watching a ton of them).

    At this point - since we are just building a weekender - it's more about what we don't need than what we do. I'm going back and forth between tossing in a few plastic drawers under a platform bed, or getting into more of a custom kitchen setup.

    This one is about level of build that's feeling right: Gravity feed water setup so no pump needed, plastic bus trays for drawers, etc. I wouldn't bother with all the 12V stuff that he did.



    But I haven't laid things out yet. The big question is can I get enough of a bed in front of a kitchen like that, or do I need the bed to go over (or poke through) the kitchen setup?

    There will also be some deeper-down storage in that spot once I pull the 3rd row seats out. Trying to figure out how to not lose that. Maybe the house battery etc can go there, sunk underneath a kitchen.
     
  11. Feb 25, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Been rethinking this too. Just hate cutting a big hole in the roof. The rear quarter windows pop out like 1.5". I may see about rigging up a couple computer fans to a panel that will sit over one or both of those windows.
     
  12. Feb 25, 2021
    Mr Vaughan

    Mr Vaughan Fly by the seat of your pants

    Central City, NE
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    where are you getting gas? 'round here it's gone up to $2.74, an unreasonable amount. maybe it's cheaper other places?
     
  13. Feb 25, 2021
    bigbendhiker

    bigbendhiker Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

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    Sounds like a good idea. I love watching Foresty Forest videos. He does wonders with the space he has. Another YouTube channel is CheapRVLiving. There's lots of videos, some better than others. There are quite a few van build outs from very simple and basic to much more detailed and involved, but there are many people doing exactly what you're proposing.
    The Sienna is a good choice. My Dad, who's going on 90, was always a Chrysler/Plymouth guy. That's all we had when I was growing up. When he got older he had several Chrysler minivans, but he grew dissatisfied with the quality and switched to Toyota's and the Sienna. He's now on at least his second one and maybe his third, but he's been very happy with them.
     
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  14. Feb 25, 2021
    bigbendhiker

    bigbendhiker Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

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    You're too young to remember $4.00 and $5.00 gas. If it's under $3.00 that's not too bad. Gas less than $2.00 last year was a nice treat, but it's all supply and demand, travel was greatly curtailed last year due to the pandemic and as travel comes back gas will most likely go up. If your really interested look up the Arab Oil Embargo of the early 1970's and the effects it had.
     
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  15. Feb 25, 2021
    SFaulken

    SFaulken Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Marysville, WA
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    If they've got them application specific for whatever I've got, Weathertech are honestly the only floor mats I buy anymore. I've had them in a number of rigs, and they've been worth the cost every time, in my opinion.
     
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  16. Feb 25, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    I wish...;)

    We paid over $4/gallon once during our RV years. I wasn't driving in the 70's but do remember the gas crunch years.

    And yea - pretty familiar with CheapRVLiving. Haven't met Bob but between our RVing and time in the "big" campervan there was only one degree of separation between us and him.
     
  17. Feb 25, 2021
    SoCalNickG

    SoCalNickG Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Los Angeles, CA.
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    When I was 13, 1968, I learned to drive (off streets) in a Manx copy dune buggy. If I remember Gas was 29.9 cents/gallon. 3 years later prices went up to 39.9 and the country lost it mind. I beleive minimum wage was under $2.00/hr then, everything is relative.
     
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  18. Feb 25, 2021
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ava, MO
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    Funny - I just learned that my dad (~ 84) just took possession of a '21 Pacifica hybrid that he ordered online. It'll be Chrysler minivan #4 for him I think. First hybrid though!
     
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  19. Feb 25, 2021
    bigbendhiker

    bigbendhiker Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

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    Mike, my comment regarding gas prices was mainly directed at Tyler who i think said he's 13 and thought $2.74 was unreasonable. It's all a matter of perspective.
     
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  20. Feb 25, 2021
    bigbendhiker

    bigbendhiker Member 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

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    Yeah, I got my license in 1972 when I turned 16. The cheapest gas I remember buying was 20.9 cents per gallon at a station near my high school called Sello. It was a rebranding of a Mobil station. My car at the time was a 1969 Rambler American with 3 speed manual on the column. It was a hand me down from my Mom. Not the most popular car, but at 16 I was just glad to have something to drive. I eventually replaced it with a Plymouth Barracuda.
     
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