The Ceej Engine

Lets talk tiny houses, tumbleweeds etc on wheels

The Ceej Engine

Postby BeCeejed » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:17 pm

Hello everyone!

I once joined this forum deadly intent on building a tiny trailer for myself, to use to go camping on the beach. Then life happened and there was a shift in some priorities and I tabled that project. But months later, I found an older van on Craigslist for an affordable price and jumped on a new project.

Its not finished (Will it ever be? :roll:) But I wanted to share my build with you guys since finding your forum was the inspiration to start making sawdust on an actual project!

When I saw this van I just knew I wanted to make a Tiny House/Hippie Van out of it. How much could I fit in there comfortably? I took it as a learning opportunity to teach myself electrical/plumbing basics and apply some basic woodworking skills I already had.

:pictures: :stompspam: I can't seem to resize these images with BBCode so I'll just link to them...Makes it easier for people to respond later too I guess, without scrolling.

First Day - Inside
This is when I bought it. All ringed in glass and plain. I took some old things out of my house and laid them out inside, getting a feel for a floorplan.

Hanging a Hammock
I tried to hang a hammock inside, I was hoping to use that as a bed, but it didn't really work out, there weren't enough secure points high enough in the van to connect to. There is a cage in the roof but I've no idea how much it might support or where the best connections might be, the roof fiberglass is secured to it from the inside so peeling that off would structurally weaken the roof. Best to avoid.

Emptied Floor - Floor support and insulation

I ripped up the old greasy floor and cleaned the whole surface. Then I laid some subfloor supports down. I'm 6' 1" and there's 6'5" of standing room in the van, so every inch is important, but you need floor insulation.

Attic Decking - Taped Attic Decking - Tiles - Edge Tiles

Then I laid attic decking down, sanded and taped the seams, and put down linoleum tiles. Light colors make a small space feel bigger!

Floor Trim

Where the doors are the floor was raised up about an inch and you saw the side of ugly attic decking, and the tiles could easily get caught, so I trimmed all the exposed edges of the floor with this metal edging to keep down the tile and a little white painted trim.

Breakers! - Furrion Shore Power Connection

Got some amazing breakers that offer ground fault and combination arc fault interruption for the whole curcuit, and this awesome shore power connection designed for boats.

Lights at Night

Learning how to get the electrical working was quite a task and when I finally finished it was late in the night after a week or so of careful reading, building some tiny circuits to practice, planning, and finally implementing it. When I finished testing it for safety, turned the driveway lights off and finally flipped the interior lights on and they worked I'm pretty sure I cried a little.

Inside Windows - Outside Windows

I didn't like all these hip-high Windows all over the place - awkward position, awkward shape! I considered pulling them out and trying to sell them on e-bay, filling in the space with sheet metal and some white auto paint, but in the interest of expediency I simply painted over them on the inside. I'm covering the inside in insulation and an interior skin, I just need it to not look like insulation from the outside.


The roof is fairly well insulated but the side walls definitely weren't.

...Eating insulation is a bad idea, but boy did I have a might craving for cotton candy while I was working on this stuff.

Bathroom Wall Framing - Wall Panelings

Framed out the bathroom wall, put furring strips on the walls, and started putting up the skin.

Back Door

I loved the natural wood texture of this thin plywood stuff I got at HD and it really started to look comfy inside when it started to go up.

Bathroom Walls skinned

Skinning the bathroom walls was quite a chore, the van walls are somewhat irregular in shape and each had to be uniquely cut to fit.

Side Doors Shaping - Side Doors Skinned

The side doors were contoured something like an S, and so the wood needed to be contoured to fit. It wasn't such a curve that it needed to be kerfed, jet getting it wet and letting it dry with sufficient weight on it put it in the right shape.

Sanded Wall Edges

Sanded the wall edges until the rounded smoothly with the 2x4. Sanded off the 2x4 stamps and then I sanded down everything and gave it a good coat of polyurethane.


Built the bed out with plenty of underbed storage.

Cabinet Base

Fridge is under the sink, but over the wheel well, so this is me testing out a little platform to hold it. Nice retro-looking fridge I got for cheap cause it was the last model Wal-mart has. Clearance racks! :D


I know some of you use cardboard sinks, haha, this is a turkey basting pan. Only a little more expensive, stainless steel, lightweight, looks amazing.

Bottom of the Bathtub

Now ya'll might think I'm crazy, but during the design I decided to see exactly how much HOUSE I could fit in this space.
So I made a bathtub out of a feeding trough, supported on a wooden base which gives it a suitable drain slope.

Desk Down - Desk Up

Here is the desk/dining table, supported by everyone's favorite hinge, and a folding dining room chair which was worth the 40$ I paid for it at Bed Bath and Beyond because its cushiony and nice-looking.

Latched Desk

The desk latches to the wall with a little hook.

A/C Hole - Inside A/C

Then my dad an I worked together to put a wall A/C on the back of the van.

First Try at the A/C

We built it on a slope (The driveway is almost 30 degrees) and despite our best efforts that threw off our leveling (Go figure! :lol: )

Second Try at the A/C

Its supported by a little shelf thing for window A/Cs but the hole is actually framed in, connected to the framing of the roof cage, perfectly sized for the AC, and filled with spray foam.

We were worried it would bounce around. When we had to rip the whole job apart to level the A/C, we realized how little we needed to worry. That thing isn't going ANYWHERE.


Speaking of how much HOUSE I can fit into this tiny about a washing machine and a dryer? 8) I don't know if I'll keep them in here long term, but the Panda line of small apartment appliances seemed like a good purchase for a number of reasons, and very affordable.

Hanging Curtain Track - Front View

The tub sits in front of the toilet and appliance in the last picture, with a 2' ~ish space between. The curtain track runs around the whole space in front of the bathroom walls. It can be pulled around in a circle to turn the tub into a shower, pulled in front of the bathroom to provide some privacy, pulled against the side doors to open the space up, and serves to divide the back of the van from the front cabin.

Now I start to beautify the space:

Kitchen - It used to be a nursing home bus, I kept the No Smoking sign for funsies.
Kitchen - A cutting board goes over the sink to make cooking space. During travel, a little NuWave cooktop fits in the sink while the pans fit under the fridge/cabinet in the space between the wheel well and the bathroom wall.

I used stemware and a wine glass rack as drinking storage, alternating between glass and plastic so they don't break each other if they rattle. Bag ties around the end of the stemware rack keep them from sliding out while driving.

Turnaround of the finished outside: Drivers - Front - Passenger - Rear

To Do list:
* get some of that 'fake grass' stuff they use at put-put golf places, but blue (HD has it) and carpet the 'mudroom' in it.
* Put some trim around the top where the wood skin meets the fiberglass skin.
* Build a drawer into the under-bed storage for easy clothes access.
* put shelves/door next to the fridge for dry food storage
* Put a door of some kind over the under-cabinet/wheel well storage space so stuff doesn't slide around while driving.
* Put a bookshelf in front of the tub on the driver's cabin side of the curtain. I have 10" X 2' of space that isn't be used! Its a crime!
* Build one of these things and attach it to the wall above the towel rack in the kitchen.
* put a removable seat on the tub and 2 seatbelts attached to the frame by the side doors so more than just me can travel in the van.
* Buy some Teardrop door windows and put them through the fiberglass portion of the wall, over the sink and over the desk/table. I found some, just waiting for tax moneys to buy them - tinted, insulated, screens, etc
* Find some way to pretty up the PVC pipe that fills the bathtub? Maybe metallic brass or silver paint?
* Mount a small TV on the wall over the desk that can be tilted towards the bed.

I have some pictures of the bed with the final mattress put on and stuff. I can add those later.
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Re: The Ceej Engine

Postby pchast » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:24 pm

Interesting build-out. Have you had it weighed since you started?
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Re: The Ceej Engine

Postby IndyTom » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:27 pm

You have done fabulous work. It really looks great. Are you going to camp in it or go full time?

Never trust a skinny cook

My build thread:

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Re: The Ceej Engine

Postby QueticoBill » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:07 am

Fantastic. Have you been able to use it much?
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Re: The Ceej Engine

Postby BeCeejed » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:09 pm

@IndyTom, I'd love to go full time, at least for a little while. :( When I've been looking at RV places though, they only want people who are in RV's <10 years old from 'prominent manufacturers'. They say anything else is a 'sewage risk'. If they don't mind that my rig is custom, they don't usually want dogs unless they are tiny teacup chihuahuas, not my knee-high Shar-pei.

Just camping for a bit is fine, mind you, those are just the standards they hold for their long term residents.

Once I get the windows installed and the tires replaced, though, I'm rolling down to the beach at least once a month. 2 hours south of me is a beach that lets you camp right on the beach 3 days a month for free (No hookups, obviously), so this rig will get used for that purpose once tax moneys come in. And I'll keep looking for a place to rent or buy where I can park the rig.

Of course, the thing is very well insulated...once I got the skin on, if I cracked the front windows and put a sunshield on the windshield, it was downright comfy when I was working on it in the summer. With two elevated screened windows in the back on either side, I think it will be comfy enough I might just...boondock around town for a little while. >.> Won't be able to take a luxurious soaking bath because I won't have access to shore water or shore sewer, and I can't power the A/C all the time, but provided its cool enough in the rig then I should be okay with just showers and a crossbreeze.

Will have to test it out again when the weather gets really steamy. Its fine to boondock at the beach where you have that constant breeze, elsewhere...maybe not so much.

@pchast I haven't had it weighed, no! That will be part of the process when I convert the title to an RV title. VIN verification with the Sherriff's office, forms for the DMV that list specific changes made to the vehicle, new vehicle weight, etc.

Sadly I don't know what it weighed when I bought it empty, unless that's on the title somewhere, or an early inspection receipt. I'd have to check.

@QueticoBill Not yet! The tires are in real bad shape. Were when I bought it. Need to get them replaced before I try to drive it any real distance. Now it kinda commutes from the storage facility to the house on weekends when I can afford to work on it, and that's about all I trust it with until I get new tires. Tax Moneys! :money:
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