The ROV is an empty, rusty shell of an E-350. It’s a decent base to start an off-road camper build. It’s the standard length, 138″ wheelbase 3rd Gen Ford Econoline chassis. Ford produced this body style from 1975 through 1991. Most people doing older camper conversions opt for the extended body length for more interior space. While the extra space is nice, that extra long tail wagging out back gets in the way for any serious off-road activities. The standard body size suits our needs better.
In this section we’ll detail the process of converting the empty van into the camping rig that suits our needs. For the moment we have some general ideas and goals that include:
- Custom aluminum pop-up camper top with mezzanine sleeping area. There are no pop tops available for the 3rd Gen Ford vans. We have to make our own
- Solar system with lithium batteries. Interior space is at a premium in van conversions. We’re self-employed and work online. We need a battery system that’s compact but can keep us working from anywhere. Lithium batteries are expensive but the energy density and weight savings make up for the cost when compared to the big, heavy AGMs we’ve been using in the Troopy for the past 10 years.
- A composting toilet. Yes, that’s right. No worrying about where we’ll take our next dump.
- Cabin heater system because we’re in Maine.
- Hot/cold water system
- Inductive cooktop system. We don’t want to deal with safe handling of propane storage tanks and combustion gases in the van.
- Starlink satellite internet system. (Hopefully, someday.) We can work from anywhere we have reliable internet service.
- and likely much more…
but we’re leaning towards a tilt-up camper top