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Sleeper Sleeper: Toyota Sienna Campervan Build

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

  1. Aug 6, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    We end up carrying a menagerie of rechargeable things in the campervan. Trying to keep track of all the wires and chargers has been a hassle - so I bought this soft-sided toolbag to create a portable charging center in. It can either sit by a campground power pole or get carried into a library or restaurant where there's an available outlet.

    I also bought an auxiliary battery to try and extend our off-grid time (I'm not quite ready to bite the bullet for solar or a Jackery-type solution yet.)


    IMG_0235.jpeg IMG_0236.jpeg IMG_0237.jpeg
     
  2. Aug 6, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    blocks.jpg

    Forgot I also made some leveling blocks. Trying to avoid having to stack lumber...;)
     
  3. Aug 16, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
    Joined:
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    Window screens done. Frames from 1/4" birch ply, screen stapled on and gorilla-taped over, edges wrapped in hose. They wedge in at the top and two screws hold them in at the bottom.

    I wouldn't do them this way again. Spent $100 on the wood and hose, had everything else on-hand. Killed my weekend and two week nights. There are slip-over screens on Amazon for like $20 I'll buy if these don't work.

    campervan-screens- - 6.jpeg
     
    Danefraz and Glenn like this.
  4. Aug 20, 2022
    txtoller

    txtoller Member 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Weatherford, TX
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    Nothing like a diy to save mone...Damn!:cry:

    I have done it more than a few times!
     
  5. Sep 4, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
    Joined:
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    Home from a MO - CO - MO trip. Gone two weeks, drove ~2300 miles, spent 3 nights at a friends house in the middle of the trip to reset, do laundry, and provision for the rest of the trip.

    The first week was vacation, the second I worked remotely from the campground.

    Pretty happy with the setup - the only things I want to do yet are hotwire the windows and make curtains. I'm tired of lugging the Reflectix window plugs around and we rarely use them anyway.

    Buying ice every 2.5 days gets old, but with 205K on the van now I'm not wanting to spend too much more on this build.

    Between that mileage and our time in CO we're scheming the next rig. Current idea is a similar setup but in a 4WD Suburban. With a mild lift, lockers, and winch we could get to some pretty cool dispersed campsites. I like the idea of being truck-based, all Chevy, and large enough to not need a rooftop tent for sleeping.

    Overnighted in the most under-used Colorado rest area ever. Spent 12 hours there and only 3 other cars came through. No truck traffic at all.

    sienna-camper-co - 1.jpeg
    Happened to pass the Royal Gorge on the way to our first campsite. Had extra time so stopped and did the touristy thing:

    sienna-camper-co - 2.jpeg

    Setup in a NF campground by Twin Lakes. Friends we met while fulltiming - they went from a 42' fifth wheel to a FourRunner setup. They go more rustic - we needed at least a pit toilet handy. I've never seen a cleaner pit toilet - it didn't even stink.

    sienna-camper-co - 3.jpeg

    Sienna and trees (not a drone shot - this was from dispersed camping higher up the ridge from the NF campground):

    sienna-camper-co - 4.jpeg

    The cliched "vanlife" shot at Cottonwood pass near Buena Vista:

    sienna-camper-co - 5.jpeg

    Mueller State Park

    sienna-camper-co - 6.jpeg

    sienna-camper-co - 7.jpeg

    sienna-camper-co - 1 (1).jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
    Snoopy, Danefraz, Twin2 and 5 others like this.
  6. Sep 4, 2022
    Jw60

    Jw60 Cool school 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Sedalia MO.
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    One thing I don't like about the Expedition is it's rear seats and independent rear suspension raise the rear floor quite a bit. I am curious if you are dead set on a suburban or if a camper shell is an option, the suburban is still gonna be tight for headroom compared to your van.
     
  7. Sep 4, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    It's all spit-balling at this point. The van fits in my garage - but there's a chance we'll be living elsewhere when the next rig comes around and my restrictions will be different.

    Interior height looks like maybe a ~ 4" difference - internet says 41" for a '10 suburban, I measure 45" to the floor (amidships) in the Toyota.

    I need the interior length. With the back seats removed, a suburban has room for a fullsize bed with a kitchen setup at the rear hatch. Campershell would be tough unless on an 8' bed and that's too long of a rig.

    Other option is a rooftop tent on a smaller truck - but I suspect our next life will be urban and I'll need to fit in a parking garage.
     
    Jw60 likes this.
  8. Sep 6, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
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    Two things I don't like about the Sienna:

    - Lack of any battery light/amp meter/volt meter. Battery went dead in CO and I had to replace it. No biggie - got a jump from the neighbor and found another battery in town, but still. Charging system status is invisible.

    - Lack of recovery points. There is apparently no factory-approved way to pull this van either forwards or backwards with a strap or rope. Van is fine, but DadsTJ dropped it's oil while we were gone and I need to get it towed to the garage. It's only like 5 blocks but I might have to call the pros.

    But OTOH - the van has already gotten us to 17 states.
     
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  9. Sep 6, 2022
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb

    Southern...
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    You can get one of those little digital volt meters that simply plug into a cigar lighter socket. We have one in the camper. If I wonder how my aux batteries are holding up I just plug it in and check. I think I got it at wally world.
     
    Boyink likes this.
  10. Oct 16, 2022
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    Another two weeks logged in the sleeper sleeper. Had to put a new set of tires on it - did it in MI where the sales taxes are a bit lower.

    Seats are killing us on long days though. Gotta find some seat covers with some added padding.

    Watching a Lake MI sunset in Ludington, MI

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2022
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  11. Aug 9, 2023
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    Just decided to delay "the next rig" and do some improvements to this van. It still looks good and drives well, doesn't burn oil, etc. If I were starting over I might do the camper build differently, but it's close enough that we'll stick with it for a while.

    On the to do list:

    - Replace cooler with 12v fridge
    - Eliminate center console and replace with Jackery/Blueetti charge station with battery, inverter, and charge controller
    - Install as big of a solar panel on the roof as I can fit
    - Eliminate the need for the toolbag-based charging center
    - New headlight lenses
    - Hotwire windows for middle of the night changes without fussing with ignition
    - Better iPhone mount (front and rear)
    - Install Molle seat back organizers with upgraded bathroom bags etc
    - Install interior lights and fans connected to charge center
    - Buy bug screens for the front door windows
    - Exterior awning?

    Probably some other odds and ends to improve.
     
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  12. Aug 9, 2023
    Jw60

    Jw60 Cool school 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Sedalia MO.
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    Would there be value in Remote start for cycling the ac and heat during the night?
     
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  13. Aug 9, 2023
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    Nah. Heat I can solve with a 12v electric blanket. AC I don't feel comfortable being in a running car that ins't moving just to have AC on. Best answer there is fans and proper planning.
     
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  14. Aug 19, 2023
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    Not much to show yet, but just ordered the rest of the upgrade puzzle.

    Pretty happy where it all came out price wise:

    $669 - EcoFlow DELTA 2 Portable Power Station 1024Wh (factory refurb on ebay)
    $221 - BougeRV 30 quart 12v Fridge (found it $100 cheaper on company website vs. Amazon)
    $215 - Renology 200W solar panel
    ---------
    ~ $1100

    I know I'll spend more on wires/connectors/mounts etc but pretty happy with that price. I always figured it was going to cost $2K.
     
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  15. Sep 17, 2023
    hudsonhawk

    hudsonhawk Well-Known Member

    North Texas...
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    I loved having solar and the 12v fridge in the small trailer I built. So much easier not having to worry about ice.

    I went with a 300Watt 36V panel into a MPPT charge controller. The MPPT along with the higher voltage creates more power in lower light, partial shaded, overcast conditions.
    I fed it into an Optima Yellow Top battery that ran all the electric in the trailer.
     
  16. Sep 17, 2023
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    I tried to find a higher-watt single panel but I couldn't find one in stock anywhere. Figured I'd see how the 200W system works and see if I needed more.

    The EcoFlow Delta 2 has a MPPT charge controller built in. Add in the LiFePO4 battery, warranty, iPhone App, and a footprint that fit perfectly between the seats and I couldn't argue the unit.
     
  17. Sep 17, 2023
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    200W panel on roof:

    van-upgrades-2 - 8.jpeg

    Clamped it onto the stock crossbars using 4" repair straps from HD. I like this because I can change the panel location if we add anything to the roof:
    van-upgrades-2 - 9.jpeg

    EcoFlow Delta 2 and the original Sienna console. One of the reasons I chose the Eco Flow was the design - many of these power centers have a similar shape but put all the controls on a long side. This worked better between the seats.
    van-upgrades-2 - 1.jpeg

    Eco Flow mounted to the baseplate from the Sienna console. This was the best I could come up with to secure the EcoFlow while still being able to fabricate using mostly hand tools in an apartment. It's a bit clunky when not mounted but slips into place quickly and feels secure. I was going to mount cupholders on the top board until I realized that spilling a cup was inevitable, and I didn't want coffee spilling inside the most expensive part of this whole project:

    van-upgrades-2 - 6.jpeg

    There's room under the baseplate for some wire management. The fridge cord is long enough to reach the dash if we want to power it off the van battery for any reason.

    van-upgrades-2 - 7.jpeg
    My favorite part of this upgrade are these MOLLE seatback panels. I bought the panels from Blue Ridge Overland and all the bags off Amazon. The bags we used for bathroom supplies have a velco back so just tear off to go take a shower. They're not even full yet:

    van-upgrades-2 - 5.jpeg

    These little shelves for the back windows were fussy. I hope they prove useful. Just another place to throw a packing cube with clothes etc - or anything you might want while in bed. Barely visible at the right end is a new iPhone magnetic charging mount. I need a wire for it yet but that will connect to the Eco Flow unit.

    van-upgrades-2 - 3.jpeg

    Lower left is the new BougeRV 12v Fridge. The unpainted wood is a new storage cubby.

    van-upgrades-2 - 2.jpeg
    I also plan to paint the solar panel frame black so it blends into the roof rack a bit more.

    And I have all new headlamp housings and SilverStar bulbs to go on - that's next weekend.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2023
  18. Oct 28, 2023
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    Made a box to hold 4 gallons of water so the jugs would stop getting loose and rolling around:

    water-box-1.jpg waterbox-2.jpg
     
  19. Mar 24, 2024
    Boyink

    Boyink Super Moderator Staff Member

    Tulsa, OK
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    A few photos from our ~10 days in New Mexico, the 16th state we've had this van in. We stayed in a rest area, four state parks, and a BLM park and paid a max of $10/night. With our solar setup all we need is a place to park so can use rustic or tent sites. We left with no reservations, waiting to see what the weather would do. An incoming cold front had us making up for Bugs Bunny's mistake and taking the left in Albuquerque to head south. We'll have to head back to visit the northern sections of the state in the future.

    First photo is from a state park east of Albuquerque. It's pretty remote - like 30 miles off I40. We'd been there maybe 45 minutes when 7 state police cars sped in nose to tail and shouted at us to get into our vehicle. About an hour later most of them rolled back at at the same speed. Turns out there were two armed homicide suspects in the park who had stolen their victim's cash and phones and then stolen a car to get here. The police tracked them using the phones and sent an undercover agent to scope them out first. The car left on a flatbed about an hour later, and it was all peace and quiet after that.

    camper-van - 1.jpeg

    Elephant Butte SP in Truth or Consequences, NM:
    camper-van - 2.jpeg

    I usually get up to make the coffee while MsBoyink sleeps in:
    camper-van - 3.jpeg

    White Sands on a quiet Monday morning:
    camper-van - 4.jpeg

    Valley of Fires BLM campground north of White Sands. The black is all lava.
    camper-van - 5.jpeg

    Van did great - it's at like 225K miles and running strong. Solar setup was nice not having to chase ice all the time. Battery never got below 85%, and we had sun every day to recharge. We ended with two nights at an AirBnB in Albuquerque. It had laundry so MsBoyink got us all caught up with clean clothes. We walked around Old Town for a day and spent way too much on jewelry....
     
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  20. Mar 24, 2024
    Ol Fogie

    Ol Fogie 74 cj5 304, 1943 mb

    Southern...
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    I bet this was a really fun trip. We have been in this area a few years back camping. New Mexico is one of our favorite states. Often traveled there in winter months, usually less snow.
    Where is your next adventure? Thanks for posting.
     
    Fireball likes this.
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