Inside the van known as Big Blue

 

100_6390Though I have considered many a replacement, I simply can not find a more versatile road-trip vehicle. While the fuel mileage is poor compared to a passenger car, it is great compared to an RV or a Truck and trailer setup. It is large enough to pretend to be an RV and small enough to fit into a standard parking spot (only just) for which-ever suits me best that day.

Van comforts

  • 92 sq foot of living space, plus unlimited square feet front yard everywhere we go
  • Two bedrooms (full bed in rear and captain chair folds down for another) to sleep up to 3 people
  • Two kitchens. External kitchen using a standard propane camp stove and an internal kitchen (powered by a Camp Chef propane Oven/Stove), 2.7 cubic foot 120v & 12v fridge, and a foot operated sink and faucet.
  • One and a half bath (outside solar shower and a tree to pee on just about anywhere, and a cassette toilet inside).
  • 21 gallon fresh water storage for everyday needs.
  • Wired for 120v shore-power for those times we want to live like common folk.
  • Off grid rechargeable power including a 200 ah Lithium battery, 300 watts of solar panels, and a 600 watt pure-sine inverter powering dedicated outlets to charge and power all our devices.
  • 12 foot retractable awning to double our livable floor space at any time.
  • Full LED interior and exterior lighting for a total of roughly 1500 lumens of interior lighting.
  • 5000 lbs towing capacity, including 6-pin connector and trailer brake controller, to tow an in-law unit if we so please.

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History

This all started after a trip to Yellowstone in my little sports car in 2009 where I camped for a few nights in a tent (and the rain). Afterwards, I was seeking a vehicle more suitable to the road-trips I wanted to take. It wasn’t easy camping out of a two-seater car, even by myself, and I wanted to bring my son on some of my trips. I waffled back and forth between a mini-van that I would customize myself or a large V8 van conversion, or possibly even a Class-C RV.

After careful consideration I realized that a mini-van would not be able to tow (an important option for me), and a full-fledged RV was not practical for a 1-person trip, so the middle ground van-conversion was settled on. I had one in the past and loved the freedom it gave me, so I searched for one similar to it and stumbled across the exact van I wanted only 15 miles away. I purchased what is now my van, Jonas – aka “Big Blue” – 2872 days ago, on the spot and started my van-life travels.

I did do a bit of customizing to the layout during those first years, but nothing significant. After a few years of getting to know what I needed from my van,  the interior was rebuilt to a fresh layout which gave me some dedicated desk space, a closet, and a much needed longer bed to sleep on. In early 2016 the interior went through a minor renovation to make it girl-approved for Kerri and my first trip into Baja. After that 3-month trip we decided that Big Blue needed a repaint so we could spend more time in it in the states. So we repainted at the end of 2016.

van-before-n-after

At the end of 2017, in preparation for the entire 2018 year living in the van, we did a complete rebuild of the interior and more. The results of the 5 week rebuild were both dramatic with the cedar plank walls and functional with the addition of;  A new 21 gallon fresh water tank, a larger 2.7 cubic foot fridge, bigger memory foam mattress, sink, foot pump, and plumbing, a shiny new 200 ah Lithium battery, an additional 100 watts of solar for a total of 300 watts, MaxxAir fan, rear airbag suspension lift, and larger all terrain tires.

 

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14 Responses

  1. Ohlonesomeme says:

    When I started looking around for my 3rd van I did run across one of these extended
    3/4 ton camper vans. I believe the reason for the baulk was it had a 440 motor in it.
    Everytime I see one of these (yours) van on the road I think “almost”

  2. Gabriel says:

    Hi, can you please tell me the model of the car/van? Kind regards from Romania

  3. Ivan says:

    Hello, I am considering a 1989 b250 as well. Mine will be a full diy from a cargo. I was wondering if your floor plan is ‘to scale’? What are the dimensions of your vehicle? Is yours extended?

    Cheers,

    Ivan

    • Van-Tramp says:

      Yes, mine is the extended van (12 feet from drivers seat-back to rear doors, 5′ 11″ interior width) and the floor plan is to scale.

  4. Ivan says:

    What make & model is your oven & stove combo?

  5. Kyle Mel says:

    Hey!
    Just wondering what kind of mileage you would get on the highway with Big Blue?
    Thanks,
    Kyle

  6. Makayla says:

    Thank you so much for blogging about your travels, I am about to be a college student and afterwards am looking forward to investing in travel…first global, but eventually in a van living in the West. You inspire me and I loved reading your about page, very authentic, much love and light!

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