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This is my 1st new thread in this forum. I have been following others previously. Sorry if it's too long to read.

In the past a couple of months, I have been working on my own design of the Metris passenger based camper van. My goal is to have a simple camper van which can be used as the daily driver and is good enough for short camping trips (mainly in summer) during weekends. We will check in to a hotel after every 2-3 days for longer camping trips. We will try to find tent camp sites in between and avoid boondocking for now. It will save me a lot of time to plan a trip and extend each trip very much. I don't need to refresh Priceline.com that often to try to find decent deals and make them meet our plan anymore. Hope this info can help you to understand my design decisions.

Attached is the 3d rendering with a small galley and RIB like seat (which can be converted to bed). I have changed my mind and will not wait for Marco Polo Activity/Horizon anymore. This design is based on MY18 Metris passenger with 5 seat configuration (2 seat option with 4 rails is better however it results in an incomplete vehicle).

I will order the additional battery (this is another change if you have read my previous post in other thread). I didn't find it's necessary to add LIFEPO4 lithium battery pack. Meanwhile I will add a 100w semi-flexible solar panel w/ ETFE coat) on top of the roof to extend the stay.

I will use Arduino Nano + Bluetooth BLE4.x module or ESP32 as the controller to monitor and set parameters for 12v system. I will not use shunt to measure current, instead, I've bought a 100a hall effect current censor which should be better to be thrown in the driver seat base and take less space than a 100a shunt. I bought them mainly from Banggood.com (a HongKong based Chinese online store which I have used for RC hobby stuff as the alternative of Hobby King before).

It's not easy and very expensive to buy and ship a RIB Altair3 bench seat here. So, I did some research and will find a fabricator to make one for me based on my own design. Unlike RIB seat, mine will use the same pivots for all three sections. The frame will be made of 1/8" thick hot rolled steel tubing and bolted to the existing rail hooks originally for the 3rd-row bench seat with 6 u-bolts. I would say it should be as secure as the original ones. I may run FEM analysis later to see if the model can handle the designed forces (this is something I have no ideas of for now). I probably skip the headrests since it's not easy to find them with my designed dimensions. Personally, our NA jack-knife sofa hinge is way simpler and easier than this RIB and the other Westfalia Rock 'n' Roll sofa hinges. However, the current positions of 3rd-row rail hooks demands that the seat cushion has to be flipped over for almost 2 feet to make a bed long enough for both of us to lay on. I discarded the side kitchen & storage design used by Mercedes Marco Polo, VW California Ocean and other camper vans in this class for their narrower seat width which, IMO, is not wide enough for two persons to sleep comfortably. My design has the seat width set to 49-50" (which is about 3-4" narrower than a double bed).

The galley will be made of composite rather than wood or plywood. It will have the permanent sink and tap on top of it to make things easier. I don't think it's convenient to have those convertible or hide-away ones used in Reimo and other European weekender camper vans. Two 5gal water jugs and a portable 30-50l refrigerator will be secured on top of a slide which you can see a little bit of one end of them in the attached 3d modeling. I have bought a 12lpm (~3.2gpm) Seaflo submersible 12v water pump from Aliexpress.com. There's only 16lpm model listed at Amazon.com which will take about twice of power to operate if I recall correctly. Seaflo supports (I believe they're in China) told me to buy this 12lpm model from eBay or Aliexpress. Don't go this route if you need warranty covered repair service. I really don't know if I can get that later if it's broken. Its lifespan is only several hundreds of hours. It might be broken even way earlier. We will not drink water pumped from the fresh water jug. We will stock a couple of gallon bottled drinking water instead.

The box between seat and galley is the shape-only model of a Porta Potti 260p (portable toilet) which will be moved to be behind passenger seat before making the seat into bed.

We will not add a full-length sleeping pop top. I probably source a mushroom top to be installed above the galley area to allow us to stand up to stretch, cook and wash plates. I don't see any necessities for now for our use. We love to try local foods in our short trips and it is one favorite part of our trips.

Buying these items above from China is mainly out of the testing purposes. I am using them to verify whether my design does work or not. I may replace them with other brands later.

There're other relatively small items and tasks that need to done first. All of these are just for stage I. I don't believe they all will work without any changes and tweaks.
 

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Welcome. It looks like you have put a lot of thought into your plan.

Playing devils advocate a little... Why do you actually need a sink at this point? The really the main cabinet in the design, but if you don't actually need it then your design can be simplified. Will you be in places where you cannot get out of the van to wash? You will be doing things in the van that require extensive cleanup, but not so extensive as to need more than 5 gallons of water? You are going to have only cold water and to use the sink you will be sitting/crouching/squatting. Instead of pumps with the amount of use and amount of water capacity how about a manual pump faucet?

Without doing a full RV layout do you really want to put the cabinet in that location? If you don't you can have swivels on the front seats to make the seats usable when not moving and to open the cabin space more for moving around. Also, there is some hazard putting sharp cabinets in front of passengers. It looks like you have good distance, but its something to keep in mind. Have you read the upfitter guide?

If you intend to have passengers in the seat you would be wise to include head rests or have a back that is high enough to act as a head restraint. There are many many seat options. I'd try to steer you away from having your own built. If you want a bed I am certain you will be happier getting a seat that moves out of the way to make space for a platform that you can but an airbed or some other form of mattress on.

Why not a pop top? They are expensive, but if you have one you don't have to mess with the seats and you gain so much space for storage etc inside the van. No more need to use the rear area to make it livable. You can have bikes, dogs, kids, crates etc in the main area at night safe and dry.

Consider a modular approach to cabinets and facilities like cook tops and water etc. If you can move, stack, remove items you get some additional freedom.

What model do you have?

What exactly do you want to do with your 'brain". Did you get the PSM or EK1 options?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm using two open-source 2D & 3D drawing software packages:
- FreeCAD: https://www.freecadweb.org
- SolveSpace: http://solvespace.com/index.pl

The image above was exported by FreeCAD. Both are not perfect (I mean as good as the commercial products, such as SolidWorks). So you have to find your own workaround if something's wrong or missing. This is the main reason that I am using both.
 

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My design decisions are based on our previous experience (inconvenience) when traveling with a small suv and my speculation. So some could be totally wrong. I did have some considerations and specific reasons for these design decisions:

- Yes, it takes the precious counter top space to have a permanent sink and tap, but we will have a side pull-up table to compensate that (which was not drawn in the image for having no decision of its hinge(s)). Having a sink is nice to put hot and spillable stuff in it since the top will be made of 4mm Alucobond or similar composite panel which I doubt is not heat resistant material

- The van will not have 2nd-row passenger almost all the time (>98%), so I don't need the swivel plate for driver seat. For the same reason, the bench seat will not have any passenger when van's moving. Hope this can answer @pounce's questions around sitting in bench seat when driving

- Yes, a manual foot pump is simple, but it's not that easy to use with considering the awkward corner position of the sink and the tap, and not to mention to use it outside (the tap can swivel for outside use). I will use an "on-off-(on)" switch to handle all possible situation. A bowl can be put in the sink to save water or use switch's (on) side to save water when not needing two hands to do things

- Yes, there're so many ways to make a bed in rear. However, I like to have a design to make a bed with minimum effort. This is why I don't like RIB bench seat and prefer a beefier jack-knife sofa. I will put two drawers between seat frames to contain bedding and other items. Besides, I can remove two water jugs and refrigerator to use the slide bed to store items/boxes

- Both seat and galley can be removed from the van though it's not easy to do so for not using fasteners with quick releases. I will not change anything of the floor rails. So I can put the original seat back to carry passengers if required

- We don't need a full-length sleeping pop top. So putting a 200lbs+ roof is not good for us. Instead, I might add a Reimo or SCA like mushroom top above the area of galley in stage II. I have an unfinished design for this which will be made of aluminum tubing/c-channel and sheet. Its weight will be controlled in 70-80lbs. Besides, for dealing with the curved roof line, The currently available pop tops (excluding Westfalia's) will raise the rear base to make it almost straight to have a simple strengthening frame. As such, the raised height is a little bit awkward for us to pass through some covered lots with the height limit set to low 6'

- I will order MY18 passenger. All design decisions were based on the measurement of the 2D drawing publicly available at MB's website

- The "brain" is the controller similar to what we saw in Marco Polo and California camper vans to control and monitor those camping items. In my case, at very beginning, it will monitor voltage, current, battery and interior temperature etc and warn with audio etc if the pre-set threshold reached. Besides, it might control the Victron BlueSolar charging controller via rs232 commands. As to PSM, I will order it but not EK1 though it might not be used initially. A typical use of it will be to get the readings of engine running status and shift position, and I can get warned if shore power's connected. AFAIK, PSM is not retrofittable based on MB's document
 

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- The van will not have 2nd-row passenger almost all the time (>98%), so I don't need the swivel plate for driver seat. For the same reason, the bench seat will not have any passenger when van's moving. Hope this can answer @pounce's questions around sitting in bench seat when driving
If the bench wont be used while driving there is very little reason to make it a serious seat. Why not simply build a good quick bed design. Heck you could even suspend it from the ceiling/roof supports. Use some good folding chairs.

Maybe you haven't considered that when the front seats swivel they create more space in the main cabin because their backs are now facing the dash. You get more seating options when you are not moving. If it doesn't suit you I totally understand, but for such a small van I happen to think the seat swivels offer a big bang for the buck. Ever need to have "guests"?

- Yes, a manual foot pump is simple, but it's not that easy to use with considering the awkward corner position of the sink and the tap, and not to mention to use it outside (the tap can swivel for outside use). I will use an "on-off-(on)" switch to handle all possible situation. A bowl can be put in the sink to save water or use switch's (on) side to save water when not needing two hands to do things
I meant a faucet with a hand pump. Its a faucet with a little pumping level on the side. Since your sink is going to be small and your volume is low a hand operated faucet is both cost savings and helps to be conservative on your use of fresh water. There is an advantage to reducing your electrical consumption and lowering complexity. With a small sink you typically treat it the same way as the lav sink on a plane. You plug the drain and fill with just enough water to wash your hands etc. and use it like a bowl.
 

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I totally agree: in a small van as Metris, we have to use the space very efficiently.

- I've thought of foldable platform bed + fold-down bench seat design. However, it's difficult for me to find a solution to make the seat cushion kept at the standard height (~18") and get enough headroom for platform bed without adding a pop top to compensate
- I will add swivel plate to the passenger seat but not to the driver seat simply because of the galley and lack of power seat with memory option so far (Will we get this option in MY18?). I don't want to readjust the driver seat after each turn
- I skip the hand pump faucet because of the concern of quality. I believe a faucet made of brass and with ceramic disc valve will easily outlast those hand pump faucets that I can find in the market
 

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I totally agree: in a small van as Metris, we have to use the space very efficiently.

- I've thought of foldable platform bed + fold-down bench seat design. However, it's difficult for me to find a solution to make the seat cushion kept at the standard height (~18") and get enough headroom for platform bed without adding a pop top to compensate
- I will add swivel plate to the passenger seat but not to the driver seat simply because of the galley and lack of power seat with memory option so far (Will we get this option in MY18?). I don't want to readjust the driver seat after each turn
- I skip the hand pump faucet because of the concern of quality. I believe a faucet made of brass and with ceramic disc valve will easily outlast those hand pump faucets that I can find in the market
A faucet with pump lever is about $30 bucks. This isn't like a fire extinguisher or seat belt.

You are concerned about getting the drivers seat into the correct custom driving location after a swivel? Do I understand that correctly?
 

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A faucet with pump lever is about $30 bucks. This isn't like a fire extinguisher or seat belt.

You are concerned about getting the drivers seat into the correct custom driving location after a swivel? Do I understand that correctly?
- I have chosen this tap: http://ambassadormarine.com/132-1739-cp . For <$70 at Amazon.com, IMO, it's better than any hand pump faucet at the same or lower price range though it's not as good as those which cost you ~$300

- I don't worry about finding my preset seat position. However, I don't want to redo it after each turn. Besides, we will use the driver seat and its footwell to store our daily bags etc, so that space will not be wasted

Frankly speaking, I would not go through these (though the real build has not been started yet) if I can buy VW California Beach or Mercedes MP Activity/Horizon here. The used VW Winnebago EuroVan Camper and VW T3 Westfalia (Vanagon) are not cheap (~40k) and need to get a lot of works done before driving on the road.

As I mentioned previously, I had contacted Airstream, MB and Winnebago to ask for if they will convert a camper van based on MB Metris, and the answers were hard or soft NOs from all of them. Meanwhile, I didn't find what I like and want after checking the other custom converters in the market (not in person, I had only visited GTRV long time ago when it's in Richmond, BC, Canada). Besides, I have no idea of their warranty services except Sportsmobile West, which is very good based on what I read and heard.
 

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That's a nice faucet. If you want to have pumps and power etc looks like it will work great. I like the other one they have with a taller spout. Assuming you will have a smallish basin a tall faucet will help. What basin will you use? I'd also suggest that your waste water container be maybe 20% larger than your fresh tank. It's typical to introduce waste and liquids so you do not want to overflow using a full fresh water tank.

I don't think returning a seat to the adjustment you like is hard or time consuming when the adjustments are manual. You get fixed notches and only so many options. Seems trivial.
 

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This is the sink that I will buy: http://ambassadormarine.com/stainless-steel-sinks/cylinder-sinks/s14-2501-br . A Cylinder sink is good to contain hot plates and pots etc than a half-sphere one and save space in my design

With a 5" deep sink and no backsplash, a taller faucet will make spill easier. A larger waste (gray) water jug is better. I would do that if I can find a taller one (no space for a longer and/or wider one)

Attached is galley's top view.
 

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I think since you are getting a folding faucet you want to be able to use that feature. In other words be able to fold the faucet down and enable putting a top over the sink to use as a table etc.

I don't get what you mean by a cylinder sink having an advantage. Do you mean storage If that were the case I think you would want a rectangle. In fact, a custom sink that was a rectangle that put the faucet mount lower than the sink rim to the point where you could fold it and be below the rim makes some sense.

Their tallest faucet is still short in my book. Your kitchen faucet is like a sky scraper in comparison.
 

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- The countertop material is not appropriate for undermounting sink
- There's no clearance to add a lid hinged at side (confined by roof height) or in the rear (confined by driver seaback angle) to cover the whole top

- Faucet will take less top space by using a round sink rather than a rectangular one
- Dometic/smev has those sinks with glass lid as you mentioned. However, it doesn't work with my galley design. The opened lid can be blocked by driver seatback or it will block the use from outside
- The faucet in my galley's top view is the exact 3d drawing based on its 2d one. I have no idea how you can figure out the spout height in a top view
@pounce, thanks for commenting
 

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- The countertop material is not appropriate for undermounting sink
- There's no clearance to add a lid hinged at side (confined by roof height) or in the rear (confined by driver seaback angle) to cover the whole top
Why would a top or cover be required to have a hinge? You can lock down a separate cover. That cover can also be reused as a top etc when not covering the sink. Lift off or slide and drop are other options.

- Faucet will take less top space by using a round sink rather than a rectangular one
That would be the same logical statement if the sink was a half dome. I still don't see how a cylinder makes any sense. A half dome is going to be more conservative on water usage than a flat bottom sink for 2 reasons. 1) You need less water volume to create a depth required to get your hands under the water to lift and wash/rinse 2) with a flat bottom you will not have good drainage to the drain for particles. You will require a rinse and swish to get everything out of the sink. Keep in mind that airline sinks are the most proven efficient design.

- The faucet in my galley's top view is the exact 3d drawing based on its 2d one. I have no idea how you can figure out the spout height in a top view
You linked to your faucet. I looked at the specs.
 
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