It's everything we'd expect from a retired mechanical engineer.
What happens when a retired mechanical engineer wants to go camping but isn’t happy with any motorhomes on the market? Say hello to Al and his big green 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500C. TheGalavan on YouTube happened upon this man and machine in June 2019, and yes, he built pretty much everything on this high-roof camper, save for the chassis of course.
Outside, it actually looks rather boring and there's definitely plenty of green to behold. Even the wheels adopt the mantle of form-over-function, but keep in mind, this was built by an engineer. As such, it’s awash with clever features like massive external storage compartments – something not often found in typical RVs – and convenient access to pretty much every on-board system. That includes the water heater, which also supplies water for the van’s hydronic heated floor.
Gallery: Custom Built Sprinter Camper
Inside is where this homebuilt RV really impresses. Again, it’s not the prettiest camper we’ve seen, but that’s why it’s packed with features you wouldn't expect in a 20-foot camper. The seating area and dining table can convert to a twin bed, double bed, or a sofa. The expansive kitchen has loads of counter space, a large sink, a refrigerator, microwave, and a dishwasher. Behind the seating area is a full-service bathroom with a shower, and as with the outside, storage space abounds throughout the cabin. Al certainly thought this through, and what’s amazing is that it doesn’t look cramped. The showpiece, however, is what’s above it all.
A massive queen-sized bed lowers electrically with stepper motors at each corner, and it operates with the flick of a switch. It positions above the kitchen and sitting area, and when lowered, it’s easily accessible via steps built into the wall for the bathroom. Add in 77 gallons of freshwater storage and 85 gallons of gray water storage, and you have an exceptionally capable RV wrapped in a 20-foot package. It’s everything we’d expect from a sharp mechanical engineer and frankly, RV manufacturers might learn a thing or two from this special project.
And actually, the project isn’t done just yet. Al is working on a lithium-ion battery upgrade, adding solar panels to the roof, and installing a swing-out gas generator that stows beneath the RV. It’s been a steady work-in-progress since 2006, and knowing what we know about mechanical engineers, it will probably see continual updates as long as Al is on the road with it.