Thursday, August 23, 2012

Minivan Camper Conversion - Before

Before making any serious modifications, the Toyota Sienna already has features that make it a potential camping van.



Front seats with center tray in UP position.

Center tray - 4 cupholders, storage compartment, and flat tray

Center tray in DOWN position.  Presto Changeo, we now have a passage to the rear without having to open a door or go outside the van.  I consider this both a safety and convenience feature.


Three second row seats.  Aligned together they make a bench seat.  Each seat has back angle adjustments, and each seat can be separately closed flat, tumbled forward (for maximum cargo room) or removed entirely.

The first conversion step to minivan-RV: removed the middle second row seat to create passage to the cargo area.  Although it's heavy, I was able to carry it to the basement by myself.

Second row outside seat folded flat - can be used as a tray with cupholder.  When the seat is tumbled forward from this position, there's 6 feet of flat space between it and the hatch door.


Seating for three (two pieces - each can be stowed, folded or removed separately)

"Well" behind third row seats with seats in place.  I plan to remove the seats and build a hinged lid over this space which will become concealed storage as well as part of the sleeping platform.

View with 3rd row seats stowed, and second row seats in place, leaving about 4 1/2 feet from seat to hatch.

View with one 2nd row seat tumbled forward, leaving 6 feet of flat space from the seat to the hatch.


Two cupholders and flip-top bin on each side of 3rd row.

Large, deep storage area on left side rear.  Cubby is large enough to stow a gallon milk jug and several other items.  A paper towel holder will be installed horizontally in the top area of the cubby.  Notice also the courtesy light and 12-volt outlet near the cubby.



I'm not a good visualizer, so I searched the web for ideas.  This is the book I found that has full instructions, photos and templates.  It's available on Amazon:

My brother-in-law has graciously offered to be the general contractor for this project! 

2 comments: said...

Hi Scottie ... I traveled in my 2006 Dodge Caravan for three winters ... and it was just fine. A twin mattress on top of 12 underbed storage boxes, a cooler, a cell phone, a GPS, and off I went! This year I've purchased a 2000 Roadtrek, but I'm sure going to miss 25 MPG!

Scottie said...

I like the idea of all those underbed storage boxes, but I also like the idea of my bed being low - on level with the floor of the van (plus cushioning). I think it will give me a bit more sense of privacy to be sleeping below the level of the windows, and I can lean against the hatch for reading. And with the storage under the floor, I can still use the van as a -van-. Of course, it's all good. Whatever works. And of course I might change my mind as I go along.