Instructables

Sade's Gipsie Caravan: a minivan to camper conversion

Picture of sade's Gipsie Caravan: a minivan to camper conversion
Here's how i converted a Plymouth Voyager minivan into a travelling gipsie wagon, for almost no money at all. With a little time and an extended-bed minivan, you can do it too! NOTE: Although i haven't tried it, i'm sure this plan can be adapted to a smaller minivan as well. Use your creativity!
 
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Step 1: Clear the seats.

First, you need to remove the middle bench seat from the van. In a Voyager or Caravan, this is done by pressing levers on the front legs, lifting the front of the seat up, then lifting up and back to disengage the back legs. Check the documentation for your van if you're not sure how. Store the bench seat somewhere out of the elements; as long as you keep the camper set-up, you won't be using it again!

Step 2: Prepare the floor.

Next, put a tarp down. This is the voice of experience speaking, trust me! Even if the carpeting on your van's floor isn't primo, a tarp will make clean-ups *so* much easier. Just lift the corners, fold, then tip into a garbage can. Cheaper than vacuuming! Now it's time to start building the bed.

Step 3: Building a bed: the platform

For this, you will need a minimum of four milk crates. You *do* have old milk crates lying around, don't you? Sure you do. Or someone you know does. *Don't* use store-bought 'storage crates'; they aren't strong enough to support the weight you'll be putting on them.

Place one crate in each corner of your tarp 'floor'. i have an extra crate in the middle back pictured; in fact, by the time this build was done, nearly the whole floor was filled with crates! But my previous van had only four, and that worked just fine.
It would be easier with a new Caravan with stow and go
eyerobot3 years ago
Were your parents hippies? I grew up living like this, And have seen thousands of different variations for living out of a van. I think my favorite was a pop out tent, that was attached to the slider door of the van. But they too used the underside of their bed as storage, Only they used the rear cargo space, And a saw horse to polish surf boards. Not exactly a survival skill. But living in a mobile vehicle is an important skill, That shouldnt be forgotten, Especially with the current economy. You never know when your going to lose all your toys, And become homeless. Very nice instructable.
wolfkitty (author)  eyerobot3 years ago
Nope, they didn't invent hippies til i was about ten years old, lol. i've seen the (purchased) tents that fit over the raised hatchback; always wanted one, never got there. Also had plans to build a kitchen in the rear space by adding a plywood table w/cutout for a dishtub, and water from one of those big water jugs with a pump. i've never quite gotten to where i HAD to live out of my vehicle, i've been close to *choosing* it a couple times. These days i only seem to switch to festival mode once a year, so i've been surviving that with a dome tent and tarp. But you are sadly quite right. of course when you combine peak oil with bad economy, you may need a permanent space to park that vehicle before you move into it..
rambler34 years ago
I have a similar idea, check it out at myminicamper.com You can see hq pictures and download free plans to do it the way I did myminicamper.com
abadfart4 years ago
in those corner crates you could put battery to run lights and radios or phone chargers. if you intend to be a gipsie and live out of the van you might also want to add a power inverter to run a laptop for directions and weather.
pmowers4 years ago
Great job. I wish I had thought of the "ribbed" ceiling in my old '72 VW bus. I found a bed kit at the dealer that you attached to the rear seat. You just lifted and pulled and the rear seat came up and forward on legs, the seat back pivoted down between the seat and the rear deck and you had a double bed. I made curtains by folding over the two edges of some towels and then hanging them with curtain springs. It only took one summer to send me to a local van and camper shop for a crank open skylight. A Coleman cooler was clipped to the back of the passenger's seat for food. Carpet tape and a remnant finished out the floor. Boy, I sure miss that van, not so much in the winter! lol. One trick I came up with for showering was to use a shower head and hose from the dollar store- the kind you attach over a sink faucet, and a black plastic garbage bag. just cut a small corner off of the bag and fit the adapter into the bag and twisty-tie it to seal the hole. add a couple of gallons of water to the bag, tie it off and lay it out flat on the roof of the van. The water will be hot in no time on a sunny day. Just unclip the hose and wet up, soap up and rinse off. Great 'ible, and thanks for bringing back so many memories.
godscountry5 years ago
don't use any used bedding material,invest in a new mattress pad or similar type padding,foam etc.
anatole5 years ago
I thought you had things worked out pretty well. The whole set up reminded of the interior of an actual gypsy bender tent. Simplicity is key and you have that figured out well. One suggestion if I may, For bathing I use a regular milk jug with "screw on type lid" heat up a nail and poke 7-10 holes (depending on nail size) in the lid for a jug shower. Fill jug up 1/2 full cold water fill up rest of the way with really hot water. You first wet your hair and body, lather up and scrub and then use remaining water for rinse. Usually one gallon of water will work for complete navy type shower. I wish you the best on all your future travels and I will be praying for you. I am a Christian and we all need Jesus :) He is my Lord and my Savior. Please pray to Him too. :) God bless.
Great Van. Did you add a window unit AC?

power inverterNice setup. Great use of resources.

Add a power inverter to watch tv at night.
wolfkitty (author)  Outside Supply5 years ago
we're not TV people, so wouldn't have much use for that; but good idea for others. Some sort of additional ventilation would have come in very handy at times, but i never got that adventurous. Maybe in a year or two i'll be putting up Things To Do to a PT Cruiser, lol..
LinuxH4x0r5 years ago
Bad pictures, but great project!
wolfkitty (author)  LinuxH4x0r5 years ago
Thanks. i know i only had a crappy digicam at the time.. i just remembered this was on my computer so i figured i'd share!
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