We had been looking for a van to build out for a long time. It was an idea we had both talked about for years and really wanted to make it happen. Constant craigslist searches, including Searchtempest (which searches EVERY craigslist), proved to be unsuccessful. We knew we wanted a Sprinter van (Mercedes, Dodge, Freightliner) but they were few and far between. The ones we did find were very old, very high mileage, and in very poor condition. After a bit of scouring the interwebs, we became a little discouraged coming up empty-handed. I (Jace) had been working a small, part-time job at a bulk foods store a couple days a week right after getting back from our Honeymoon to Peru. Although it was only to get make a dollar while I searched for a better job, I am grateful for my time there. This is how we acquired Our Home on Wheels...
One day at work, a man came in to purchase a few bags (100lb bags) of oats and other large items. I helped him with his purchase and offered to help load it all into his vehicle. We got out to the parking lot and he opened up the doors to a old, beat-up, Sprinter cargo van. The inside was dark and dirty, full of spilled paint and who knows what else. The walls were all beat up from hauling various materials over the years for his business. Immediately after seeing the van I spewed off some quick questions - "What year is this?" "How many miles does it have?" "Everything running ok?" He was a little surprised with these questions but I was asking them too fast for him to wonder why. After answering those three questions, I said to the man "John, I will buy this Sprinter from you right now." And that's when he laughed.
After explaining to me a couple times how it is not for sale, I gave him a card with my info on it and told him to call me if he ever considered selling it. He smiled but took the card anyway, saying he would let me know if he changed his mind. After that day, I looked for used Sprinter vans a few more weeks online before eventually giving into discouragement again, and stopped. I received a phone call from John (he had to remind me who he was and why he was calling) about 6 months later, while working at a different job I had since acquired. I got all the details about maintenance, condition, mileage, etc while on my lunch break and set up a time to meet the next day. We showed up the next day, with my car-genius Dad, inspected EVERYTHING and bought the van on the spot.
2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500
Recently rebuilt transmission
Bent up bumper, multiple dings and scratches, broken taillight
Beautiful and ready to receive some love
FIRST TIME HOME OWNERS!
We were stoked! We had always talked about buying a van, converting it into a livable space, selling all our stuff and hitting the road. Well, we talked about it a bunch...and then we took the leap. As we were driving home, there was a huge haboob (massive dust storms in Arizona) blowing us all over the road, but we just kept laughing because we were so stoked to live in this van! Rain, snow, dust storms, whatever... this thing was going to be our rolling cabin and we were so happy about it.
After getting that van home, it was pretty much all we talked about and all we did for the next 7 months or so (we actually took A LOT of breaks). We were both working full-time, so we spent our weeknights and a lot of weekend drawing up plans, reading forums, and spending a bunch of dough to get this rig all built out.
Stay tuned as we continue to add to the "Buildout Process" section of "the Van." We will be posting details on all the parts of our build. No guarantees it will be fast moving because I am pretty bad about sitting down and writing this stuff out. But its long overdue. Feel free to ask any questions. It will help me know what to cover in this section.