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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to share the experience of my camper built. First a disclaimer that I am not an electrician/plumber/carpenter/engineer. There are many mis-information in the web, and please consider mine as one of them before you consult with real professionals. I learnt a great deal from many posts in this forum. Any comment and question are very much appreciated.

We are a family of four with two pre-teen boys. We do occasional camping during weekends. When the Metris first came out in 2016, I knew it’s the right vehicle for our need – a daily commuter parked in the garage, with light camping duty. I bought the van, and set out to build a camper mimicking the “Reimo Multi-style”:


The first obstacle is to get a pop-top that is rear facing. I searched around, and fortunately found Daniel from Travois in this forum. Daniel agreed to install the pop-top, and help sourcing a pair of “Neptune” Scopema seats needed for the multi-style plan. After a long wait, I finally picked up the van from Montreal last October. Besides pop-top, Travois also installed the Scopema seats, swivels for both front seats, and the windows in the mid row. Overall they did a good job (pictures 1-4. Thank you, Daniel!). This pop-top is one odd request from their normal production run, so I really appreciate their willingness to take it on. However, there were two un-foreseen complications that forced me to change my original layout: 1. The scopema seats are big. There’s not enough room to make a passable middle isle between two seats. 2. The poptop was not cut as toward the back as I originally thought, leaving 2 feet between the open and the rear, which significantly shrinks the stand-up space in the rear.

So, instead of two rows of cabinets in the "multi-style" plan, I draw up a plan with two single seats in the middle row and a U-shaped cabinet in the rear. I sold the Scopema seats to someone in California who was building his Sprinter. I bought a set of foldable OEM Vito seats: two singles and one 2+1 bench, with the help of a friend shipping them over from China. My local body shop installed the fourth seat rail in the van (picture 5). With those done, I finally was able to start my work.

The progress was slow. Fast forward 5 months later…
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Cabinet: I built with 30-series 8020 (picture 1-4). It was secured by four existing anchoring points in the van (2 in the rear and 2 in the middle of the van) and four u-bolts through two seat rails (pictures 5-6). Feel quite secure. The U-shaped layout leaves a 32” x 32” standing space in the middle, for cooking/etc. The cabinet on the right is about 15” deep, on the lift is about 7” (same width as the seat rail to the wall), on the rear about 24” deep.

To set up the bed, two single seats fold down, two counter-top extensions on both sides supported by foldable brackets are up and the tri-fold board in the rear folds out to form a 6 feet long bed (Pictures 2, 7-8), with width across the van.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Plumbing: Two 4 gallon jugs, one for fresh water and the other for grey. I put a submersible water pump from Whale, directly into the fresh water jug, controlled by Shurflo electric faucet (pictures 1-2). For food storage, I use a 48 gallon cooler for now. I may upgrade to a 24v portable fridge if I camp more frequently and stay longer on the trip in the future.

Electric: I bought eight 90ah prismatic Lifepo4 cells and installed them under the driver seat, secured by 8020 (picture 3). These eight cells form a 24v 90ah battery. With ~2 kwh capacity, the battery should be sufficient for a weekend trip. I installed a cheap 12v to 24 v boost charger for charging while driving and a Victron 100/15 solar charge controller under the rear compartment of the passenger seat, covered by a few DC sockets/breakers/switches on the face panel (picture 4). A 1000w DC-AC inverter was installed in the compartment on the back of the driver seat. I put the inverter on/off control and an AC outlet on the face panel under the driver seat (picture 5).

Wires for DC and AC was routed to the back through various gaps/rubber trims/carpet. I installed a small fuse box inside a sandwich box (I searched around and found that a sandwich box actually works best there: it’s small, air-tight and nonconductive). All the DC appliances (sockets, LED lights, water pump) are connected back to the sandwich box (picture 6). I put a couple of DC sockets/USB/XT60, as well as an AC outlet, in a wooden box, and secured the box on the counter (picture 7). Putting AC/DC inside a single box is probably not a good idea – will separate them later. For now, vast majority of time the AC line is not active.

Still work to be done for the rest of the summer...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you, RansomRidge, for the kind word. I enjoyed reading many of your posts.

My craftsmanship can’t stand up in close-up photos. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@metris mistress, Sorry I am in business travel and won’t be able to take picture until later in the week. The upper bed is essentially 4 nicely painted steel plates that are put together when needed. Since my poptop tilts down from back to front, the opening for climb into the upper bed is on the rear. If the lower bed is not deployed, I can step on the lower cabinet. If the lower bed is deployed, I will crawl into the lower bed first, then sit up and climb through the opening to the upper bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have four 50w flexible solar panels and have been researching for a good way to install them. Other than safety and secure installation, my next priority is to avoid drilling holes on the poptop. I also read that ventilation underneath the panels can prevent overheat and thus increase efficiency and lifespan of the panels. In addition, since these flexible panels have shorter lifespan than rigid panels, the ease to remove dead panels in the future is also a highly desirable feature.

I have a roll of industry-strength Velcro. Velcro checks most of the boxes - no drill hole on the poptop, air gap under the panels, and detachable. However, I am a bit concerned on the security of the Velcro as the manufacturer recommended high temperature is 150F, which is probably OK but I hope for a bit wider margin of safety. A more popular and stronger substitute for Velcro is 3M dual lock. I was disappointed to find out that dual lock is only marginally better than Velcro in terms of working temperature, rated at 158F for continuous high temperature. 3M VHB tape is rated much higher at 250F and has much stronger bond than either velcro or dual lock, that led to my decision to use a combination of VHB tape (5952) and Velcro.

I can’t use VHB tape directly between the panel and the roof because VHB is pretty much a permanent install, very difficult to remove later on. Instead, I cut several small pieces of 0.25 inch thick aluminum flat bar (picture 2 below), drilled a countersink hole in each of the pieces, and secured a M6 aluminum screw inside the small bar using JB Weld (picture 3). I secured these aluminum pieces (with screws) on the poptop roof with VHB tape. They become the anchor points for the solar panel. I then taped the perimeters of the solar panels with Velcro (picture 4), and taped the other half of the velcro on the roof. Finally, the panel was installed with matching velcro, and then bolted down on the anchor points with aluminum nylon lock nuts (picture 5, 6). I then taped the front end of the panel with gorilla tape (picture 7). I chose all aluminum components (bar/screw/nut) to avoid rust.

The wire was led inside the van through two existing gaps between the poptop and the roof (picture 8 and 9). I was planning to use Gear Aid tenacious fabric tape to attach the wire to the poptop canvas. But it turns out to be very difficult. After a few failed attempts, I cut some small pieces of the tape to temporarily “secure” the wire on the canvas (picture10). It looks pretty bad as you can see from the picture. I will need to find a better solution. If you know of any tape that can stick to the poptop fabric, I would really appreciate the input.

Overall, other than the last step of attaching the wires to the canvas, I am pretty happy with the result. I drove ~600 miles during the weekend for a camping trip to Outer Banks in NC. The panel appeared secure through its first test.
 

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The thing I like about this site is all the inventive ways people solve problems. No solution is necessarily the best, it depends on your needs or preferences. Lots of neat ideas and good workmanship.

And three cheers for Gorilla Tape. I noticed my door sill was getting scratched in one area as I got in and out. A small strip of white gorilla tape - problem solved and you really have to look closely to see it.
My rigid solar panels are mounted between the roof racks, flush at the top with a gap underneath. Created a lot of wind noise, so pool noodle sliced 1/4 lengthwise taped across the gap at the front with black gorilla to match the carrier, covered at the roof line with white gorilla. Over a year and still good.
Automotive exterior Roof Asphalt Auto part Glass

Vehicle Automotive exterior Car Family car Mid-size car
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I found that Gorilla Crystal Clear tape works well with rubber and vinyl, and re-taped the wire from the solar panel to inside the van. Still not professional look, but much improved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I installed a Lagun table yesterday. Pretty quick 2 hours' work.

1. Took out the OEM anchor point behind the passenger side front seat (P. 1).
2. Found a 8mm-1.25 bolt from my nuts&bolts collection (P.2).
3. Measured and assembled 80-20 to proper size/shape. Drilled a 8mm hole in the middle (P.3).
4. Attached the 80-20 assembly to the anchor point using the 8mm bolt (P.4).
5. Attached the plate provided by Lagun to the 80-20 assembly (P. 5).
6. Attached the rest of the Lagun on the plate as instructed by Lagun manual (P.6).
7. Done, the table can swing out if needed.

Two drawbacks:

1. The table is more on the passenger side. I will have to make a table top extending further out to the driver side.
2. The unit is somewhat wobbly, mainly because the floor is soft and the unit is on single attaching point. I used a long 80-20 piece as the base, which helped reducing the lateral movement but still some.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the result. Will need to think about a good table top design to make it more useful. I will welcome any suggestion.
 

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Cabinet: I built with 30-series 8020 (picture 1-4).
Where did you get your sink? Did you buy the 8020 local or online? Thanks, very creative approach to your build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you, MOWO. I bought the sink from ebay a few years ago, but the seller is no longer active. 8020 was bought from 8020 "garage sale" in ebay (link below) - the store offers various surplus for auction from time to time. I used 30 series instead of more commonly used 10 or 15 series because the store happened to auction off a 30-series lot at that time and I was able to bid for a good price.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Continue working on the Lagun table. I made a table top from 1/2 inch plywood, installed a computer monitor desk stand and put a 19 inch RCA TV on the stand.


Vehicle Car Chair Off-road vehicle Family car Vehicle Automotive exterior Car Minivan Light commercial vehicle Vehicle Car Vehicle door Automotive exterior Minivan
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Looks good!

Do the single middle seats mount to the USA-spec factory mounts? Or did you have to change those?
I use the 2 original factory mounts for the passenger side mid-seat, and install one additional USA-spec mount for the driver side.
 
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