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Thread: The Quigley Buildup

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    On the road... somwhere in NV on my way to Tahoe!

    Default The Quigley Buildup

    Alright so the quigley buildup is about to begin...i'm basically looking to make this into something similar to what sportsmobile produces. I want it to be 4 season capable so i can be camped comfortably on the beach or at a ski resort

    This is a bit long but i'm definitely looking for peoples opinions...input is much appreciated! If you have any input on any of the products i've gone with so far or suggestions for how else i should go about it please let me know!

    The van came with basically a bare interior....just the penthouse popup and a plywood floor. My first step is going to be applying some insulation and a nice floor. I'm going with the foil-foam-foil insulation Not only does it help insulate but it provides sound dampening.

    For flooring I knew carpet was out after getting muddy at Moab...carpet would be impossible to keep clean. So it was either laminate flooring or vinyl. I couldn't find any vinyl flooring i liked and when looking at costco's laminate flooring i noticed that their installation package included plastic coated foam to laydown under the laminate flooring. I had been a bit worried about putting the laminate flooring on top of the insulation i purchased but it looks like it should work out well....time will tell. I'm hoping this turns out to be a low cost, durable, and low maintenance floor.

    I'm also working on putting together a couch that converts into a bed, this will be positioned behind the drivers seat. I wanted something that would be comfortable to lounge on and nice to sleep on when i don't feel like sleeping in the penthouse. For the mattress i'm looking at either going with a foam futon or making my own foam mattress out of regular foam and memory foam. I'll be covering it with a washable microfiber cover. Underneath the couch will also provide storage.

    For additional storage I'll be putting in some cabinets after the couch and then on the otherside of the van i'll have additional cabinets, a sink, a fridge, and a microwave. I think i'll skip a permanent cooktop as i don't use them too much and i can always take a small camping one with me. I'm also trying to avoid propane but we'll see how that works out.

    In the very back of the van i'll be building a small box on the floor for the fresh water tank and then on top of that will be free storage where i will keep my mountain bike.

    For the sink and counter i'm looking at doing a solid surface setup but i still need to research it a bit further.

    For the middle of night calls of nature I went with a Thetford Porta Potty 555. It's manual flush, didn't need electric and supposed to be one of the best porta potty's.

    For a shower i'm going to make a portable one that i can setup in the hallway when using and store it when i'm not.

    For the water system I've purchased black abs plastic vallterra tanks...the fresh water one is 30 gallons and baffled, the gray water tank is 9 gallons but not baffled. Both tanks will be mounted inside of the vehicle to help protect them from freezing.

    For a water pump i went with the Aquajet ES. It was a bit pricier than i planned but is supposed to be a reliable, quiet, and fairly steady flow water pump.

    Since water sources are never guaranteed I figured a water purifier would be important to have. For this one i went with They say it's for "For any water supply with no objectionable water odors other than sea water".

    Now the more I thought about this I realized I needed gauges for the water tanks to see how full they were. In tank gauges apparently aren't super reliable so I went with the SeeLeveL II 709-PH. The sensors mount to the outside of the tank and with the monitor panel i can monitor 3 different water tanks, a propane tank, and the battery. It also has switches for the water pump and water heater.

    This is adding up fast

    Heating system and water heater -
    Espar stuff is nice but I'd probably be looking at around $3000 just for the water heater and furnace not including what it would cost me to install it.

    I've been trying to avoid propane and my vehicle is gas not diesel. For a furnace i've been considering just a small electric heater, they do use a lot of amps but i'm hoping if i can insulate the van enough i won't need tremendous use out of it, you can get one for like $50 that has a remote, timers, and auto thermostat.

    For the water heater i've been looking at the an atwood marine 6 gal water heater. It functions as a heat exchanger with the engine coolant and also has an electric element. However like an electric furnace it is quite taxing on the electrical system.

    If electric just isn't going to workout i'll proably look further at propane or the espar setups.

    I really like the TrippLite RV2012UL. It's a 2000 watt inverter with a 3 stage battery charger. Should be able to pick it up for under $600.

    Solar panels are in the future but probably not immediately so.

    Generators, i'm looking at the 1000 or 2000 watt offerings from honda, yamaha, and kipor. I think it would be really cool to be able to add an electric start to it, not sure how much work that would be.

    Batteries i'll probably go with lifeline agm batteries although i'm not sure on the size.

    Fridge - probably somethign like this waeco looking for around 3 cu ft capacity and a small freezer section.

    I'm getting the windows tinted in the morning for a bit more privacy and heat rejection.

    I'll be making window shades out of relfectix or the same insulation i've used in the rest of the van.

    I'll probably be switching out the 265/75r16 goodyear wranglers for 255/85r16 maxxis bighorns.

    I'd like to add a box on the back of the van that i can carry the generator in and a couple gas can's. (think rear tire carrier setup)

    Front 2" reciever hitch and multi mount winch system.

    I have an air compressor that is basically a rebadged mv-50, i'll be working on a permanet mount for it and have it hooked up to like a 5 gallon tank that i'll probably mount underneath the van. I was thinking a remote on/off switch and pressure gauge mounted up front.

    I have a tranny temp gauge and oil pressure gauge i need to install.

    Carputer for navigation and other fun things.

    New shocks, work on getting more articulation, possibly some sort of airbag setup to control suspension height. Maybe regear and an e-locker...right after i win powerball anyways lol

    If you made it this far thanks for reading my ramblings! Pictures will follow as i progress with my upgrades.
    Last edited by jeff@work; 11-02-2006 at 02:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Okanagan Valley, BC
    Just a few observations:
    1) 2000 watt inverter? at 12 volts you will be drawing 167amps! I don't think this is practical unless you are installing a huge battery bank. If you want to run electric heat and/or electric water heater, you will have to run the generator the entire time or plug into a 110 volt power source.
    2) Tire size: 255/85-16 would not be a size I would recommend for your van because of the size and weight. If you are increasing the height of the tire you need to increase the width also or your on-road handling will be really deteriorated. If you want to increase your tire diameter I would recommend 285/75-16, this is a much more commoon size than 255/85-16 or 295/75-16 and is therefore available in a much larger variety of tires. It is also available in load range E, which would be prefered for your vehicle. I can tell you from personal experience that it is a real pain being stranded in a small town/small tire shop that does not stock your tire size. I have switched from 295 to 285 tires for this reason.
    3) Espar: I believe that Espar and Webasto make gasoline models as well as diesel. However they ARE expensive.
    4) Weight - weight - weight...Be very careful with every mod, your weight will skyrocket unless you are very careful. ie: Things like solid surface counters add lots of weight, I would investigate lighter alternatives.

    Check out this site:

    Good luck and keep us informed on your progress


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    north georgia
    Sounds like a plan.

    We have an Aquajet ES and like it very much. Get the vibration damper (coil of flexible hose) so it doesn't transmit vibration to the tank and any rigid plumbing pipe and fixtures.

    A marine hot water heaater is a good idea. The engine will heat the water as you drive. We always have hot water for a day or so after driving. Several companies make 4 gallon units and rectangular units instead of the standard round unit if space is a problem. We have an Indel Isotemp and it has better insulation than anything we had before.

    I don't think the Espar is as much as you think. We didn't pay that much and I've seen the basic unit for 1000 on the internet.

    They make a gasoline version, but I don't know how hard it is to find.

    The nice thing about the hot water furnace is you can connect it to the marine hot water heater and the van heater and a radiator in the camper.

    That way the van engine can heat the hot water and provide heat to the living space while driving.

    And the espar can provide heat to the living space, the cab and heat the hot water while parked.

    From our experience (camping from 2 months to a year at a time and living aboard a sailboat for 15 years) a 3 cubic foot refrigerator is too big and will use too much battery.

    Get something smaller and add additional insulation. We currently have an Indel Isotherm BI 41 that's about 1.5 cubic feet. Plenty for 2 people for a week. It's a top loading unit that you build into your cabinetry. Average consumption is .7 amp but we added insulation around the outside of the unit and use less than that.

    Top loading units have been used on sailboats for years because the cold air doesn't spill out when you open the door and use less battery.

    Good luck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Sugarloaf mtn, Boulder, CO
    For heat and maximum flexibility regarding hot water, engine preheat consider an espar hydronic heater and a water to water heat exchanger. This is pretty similar to what has been used on Unicats but I beleive my design is better and ultimately more flexible. The basic premise is because the espar heater is so expensive you want to get the most out of it in terms of engine preheat, hot water heating, space heating but you don't want a massive espar that burns lots of gas/diesel. My plans are for diesel where preheat is more important but a gasser likes to be warm too.

    The simplest approach for both hot water and engine preheat is to tap the heater circuit and install the espar. The engine and the espar work together so the hotter the water gets from the engine the less work the espar has to do. On this same circuit install your coolant based water heater (with an electric emersion heater if you wish) and you get hot water while driving. However when you stop driving the espar is powerful enough to keep the coolant in engine warm but due to the size of the coolant circuit not powerful enough to keep the entire cooling system warm enough to drive a water heater. Big engines, especially diesels, typically have extra large coolant circuits and to get the coolant hot enough to drive a water heater means the thermostat is open and you now have an even bigger engine coolant circuit and a radiator. You also have the issue of running engine coolant from the engine all the way to the camper which is a critical point of failure, you also have to consider the additional load on the engine water pump and pay careful attension to the path of the coolant lines as they need to stay lower than the engine expansion tank.

    The solution is to use a water to water heat exchanger on the engine coolant circuit, the other side of the heat exchanger is a private coolant system that contains the espar and the water heater. This private espar coolant system is pressurized and only a few gallons, while parked the espar can very easily get the temperature of this private coolant system upto boiling and hold it there which provides hot coolant for the water heater. While driving the engine is pumping water through the engine side heat exchanger and the heat gets transfered to the espar coolant circuit and if that is not enough heat the espar will run.

    While parked the pump on the espar will circulate water in the espar circuit so you will be putting some heat back into the coolant from the espar circuit due to thermal convection but it will not be much, if its not super cold this will be enough heat to keep the engine coolant luke warm and give the diesel engine a kick start. If you need more engine preheat you can install a coolant pump to circulate the engine coolant through the heat exchanger which will cause it to pickup a lot of heat and basically get the engine hot, in fact you should be able to transfer enough heat to open the engine thermostat. Once the engine is hot you can use the regular truck heater as a defroster on those really cold days.

    In this system the espar is only used to keep the local coolant hot and once its hot the espar switches off. When the clean hot water in the water heater is hot its extracting very little from the espar circuit and typically the engine cooltant pump is off the engine preheat is extracting very little heat from the espar circuit, the end result is you use very little diesel.

    You can extend this private hot water circuit to contain water to air heat exchangers/matrix heaters with an electric blower to heat the cabin, this works like a standard heater in a vehicle. You could pump the water in the espar hot water circuit around the outside of your holding tanks to keep them warm and for ultimate comfort you could also install under floor heating in a similar way. All of these options could be controlled by valves to switch them on and off and the more of these heat circuits you have the longer the espar will run for and the more diesel you will burn.

    Finally the engine coolant water to water heat exchanger is in the engine compartment so engine cooltant stays near the engine and no additional strain is placed on the engine water pump. I have detailed documents on this system if you are interested as well as suppliers for all the parts.

    EDIT: Here is an awesome unimog camper from the UK that did a lot of the same (

    Last edited by Robthebrit; 11-02-2006 at 04:12 AM.
    You don't inherit the world from your parents, you borrow it from your children.
    1979 Unimog 416 Expedition Camper
    1974 Unimog 421
    2004 Dodge Ram 2500, 4x4, Double Cab, Cummins Turbo Diesel
    2006 25' Airstream International CCD
    2009 Harley Davidson

    Sugarloaf, Boulder, CO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Sugarloaf mtn, Boulder, CO
    As somebody else said watch out for your weight, the quigley conversion adds a significant amount and all of the little things add up fast. Don't forget you have to consider the weight of the FULL tanks and you proabably want an allowance of 500-1000 pounds for your stuff, food, clothing etc.

    I think most of the plans I have for my mog will put me close to its GCVW and its probably near 2X that of E-250.

    You don't inherit the world from your parents, you borrow it from your children.
    1979 Unimog 416 Expedition Camper
    1974 Unimog 421
    2004 Dodge Ram 2500, 4x4, Double Cab, Cummins Turbo Diesel
    2006 25' Airstream International CCD
    2009 Harley Davidson

    Sugarloaf, Boulder, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    cobble hill, bc, canada
    sounds like you have lots of work ahead of you! Make sure you seal the seams on the laminate flooring. the press board construction does not like moisture at all. If water is left on it where it can get into a seam the board will puff up and not go back down when dry. Found this out with our VW camper we had and installed laminate.
    2012 dodge ram 1500 4x4 not very overlandish

  7. #7
    A few thoughts as we currently live in a pop-top 4x4 van:

    1 - carpets. Yes they get muddy, but they are oh-so much more comfy on the feet. We have indoor/outdoor with 1/2" of closed-cell sleeping mat laminated underneath. When they get dirty we just take them out and wash them off. Cut into 2 pieces for our floor-plan so they are easy to put in and take out.

    2 - Another option for heat is a diesel/kerosene cooktop. We have a Wallas 2 burner unit that runs off of our diesel tank. You could just plumb it up to a 2-gallon fuel can and you have cooking, furnace, and an easy way to make hot-water (in a pot).

    3 - 2000 w inverter sounds like overkill, and the efficiency of an inverter for small loads goes down as the overall capacity goes up. We have a 1400w inverter/charger that was free, but usually we just use a couple 15$ 75watt cigarette plug inverters for the small stuff (razor, etc)

    4 - Condensation is a big issue for us in the winter. Think very hard about sealing the walls and insulation from the living space with a vapor barrier. Ours is not well sealed, and we get ice buildup on the inside of the outer van skin. It drips out when we hit warmth again. I need to address this before too many years pass and we rust out.

    5 - Weight. Everything adds weight. Try to put the heavy stuff as low as possible. Consider where you can get multiple uses out of the same thing.

    6 - Water. We have a 16 gal tank (about 13 gal usable) and 10 gal in bladders that we carry. Over time we have altered our habits to where this can hold us over for about 2 weeks. I would love to have a larger single tank and do away with the bladders. Consider filtering it on the inlet side too so that you don't get critters growing in the tank itself. We have a filter at both ends. Inlet side keeps the tank relatively clean, outlet cuts down on taste (and we can then put chlorene tabs in the tank if we have any issues).

    7 - Insulation. Consider that the walls of the van are a couple layers of sheet metal with corrigations between them (much like a cardboard box). This is a few inches of dead air space that could be filled with expanding polyurethane foam and provide quite a bit of insulation at no cost in interior space. One of the first changes I will do to our van when we have down-time to tear out the cabinetry again. Also, polyurethane foam is a very good insulator, and quite cheap.

    Also, with a pop-top, (assuming a fabric sided one) the majority of your heat gain and loss will be through the pop-top sides, so a blanket system to insulate up there will do a world of difference to your comfort.

    Best of luck,

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Denver, CO
    Quote Originally Posted by etbadger
    7 - Insulation. Consider that the walls of the van are a couple layers of sheet metal with corrigations between them (much like a cardboard box). This is a few inches of dead air space that could be filled with expanding polyurethane foam and provide quite a bit of insulation at no cost in interior space.
    Erik, I've heard rumors of car audio competitors doing this to cut down on panel vibration only to find out the hard way the foam attracts and traps moisture against the metal and cause huge amounts of rust. Not sure how much truth there is to that but worth checking in to.

    Thanks for your site, it is a wealth of information!

    Bill Green
    GDE 317
    "Follow your bliss" ~ Joseph Campbell, mythologist

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Oceanside California
    I had a 99 Ford Quigley Van and had the same idea to do my own SMB conversion.

    Heating: I used a Hoda 2000i generator with a small space heater. Works fine for the cold weather. I spent many nights at Vail and Rabbit Ears Pass with it. I wouldn't use the generator if you were camping out with all the people at A-Basin. IMO the only way to heat this right is to use propane since you do not have diesel. You could get a diesel cook top that doubles as a heater but you would need a place to store 1-2 gal of diesel. I can't remember the company name that makes it.

    Water: 7 Gallon jug from wallmart. Yes it did freeze

    I also used the generator to power a tv and microwave.

    Insulation: used the blue stuff from home depot and the alumunum bubble stuff.

    Floor: I laid a few layers of carpet down. The floor is def a problem area as it can get real col and is hard to insulate.

    I loved that van. I spent a lot of nights in that van last winter. It's great stealth camping.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    On the road... somwhere in NV on my way to Tahoe!

    1) You're right, the 2000 watt inverter is probably overkill, i'll check into some lower wattage inverters. I'm hoping to find one that isn't too noisy...i have a little 100 watt one that's pretty noisy when it gets going but i guess depending on where i mount i might be able to keep it fairly quiet.
    2) I am somewhat torn on the tire size, i've also considered the 285/75r16 which would be about the same height but between 1-1.5" wider. The problem i run into is that the tires rub on the sliding door with the 265's, the 285's would prevent me from fully opening the sliding door...i could probably live with this or perhaps have the inside of the door trimmed down some. The 255's are load rated to 3000 lbs even though they're only load range rear axle is only rated for ~5500 lbs.
    The van feels very stable with the 265's on road and in the couple of trails i've done off road...of course the 285's would probably be a bit more so. Decisions decisions.
    3) Thanks i had totally forgotten about webasto! More options for the heating.
    4) I agree weight is something i am trying to be careful with. We've been making the couch/bed out of 1x2 frame and 1/2" far this is coming out pretty light...certainly lighter than mdf fiberboard would have. I'll probably use the same construction for the cabinets.

    Glad to hear the Aquajet ES is working well for you. Thanks for the tip on the Indel Isotemp, i'll definitely look into that one. 4 gallons would certainly be enough and one that can leave you with hot water a day after driving would be a nice bonus.
    Also thank you for the advice on the fridge, i'll check out the smaller models and of course it does make sense that the top loading would hold in the cold air better.
    That exact model of espar does come in the gasoline version...i'll have to check to see if it is the same price. I had kinda forgotten that i could use the hydronic one to also heat the interior by using the van's regular air vents.

    You have clearly really thought this out and you've definitely got my attention with the water to air heat exchangers/matrix heaters. I don't know why something like that didn't occur to me...after all my condo is heated with a water baseboard heater! I would really love to see the documents you have on this...i'm really liking this idea.

    Thanks for the tip, the insulation i'm using is a water barrier so i'll have to make sure i seal all the seams very well.


    Just had to say i love your guys website, it's probably one of the most informative websites on these van's i've ever seen.

    1) I'm still debating the flooring.

    2) This is an option, i've heard really good things about the wallas cooktop and i'd probably look into something like this if the gasoline fired espars or webasto's don't workout.

    3) The inverter is definitely being you get much fan noise from the 1400 watt one? I'm thinking if i have the inverter mounted in one of the cabinets (something with ventilation) i probably wouldn't hear it too much.

    4) I saw some of the problems you had with the condensation on the penthouse roof, it would really be nice to come up with a way to cut down on the condensation. I've looked at dehumidifiers but they're basically air conditioners and use just as much power as an air conditioner. As far as a vapor barrier the insulation i'm going to use is water proof so i guess it will just come down to how well of a job i do sealing it up.

    5) Definitely

    6) I am actually looking for an external filter to use after seeing the one you guys were using i realized that is a must have item.

    7) I've actually been thinking about using some expanding foam i saw at home depot, it's supposed to be water proof and is called something like big gaps and cracks. I'll have to check on the manufacturer when i go back down there. One of the things i was seeing with a lot of the expanding foams was they aren't really designed for the big areas in the van sides but more for just filling small cracks.
    I'll definitely have to check into what Bill mentioned about it trapping moisture in there....that sure would backfire on me.

    18seeds -
    So did you just have the honda generator running all night for the heater?
    Do you think the insulation you had on the walls was enough?
    Did you try laying any insulation down on the floors other than the carpet?

    Thanks guys! I really appreciate the time everyone took to read this and give well thoughtout opinions.

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