Posted by: miteb | April 4, 2009

Back on the road

After a few months off the road (this van is HORRIBLE in the snow), Miteb is once again traveling the roads and streets of Massachusetts. I had thought about not putting her back into use, but I have a lot of work and not much money into it, and, well,  I’ve missed the old girl too, so it’s back.

Only thing is, I put a new waterpump and thermostat in it last December and it now has very poor heat. MUCH worse than before the new t-stat. I can’t figure it out. Good thing it’s not a winter vehicle.

I’m going to have to put a new windshield in this month. The current one has a crack about 18 inches long, just at eye level, and on the driver’s side…it won’t pass inspection.  I also need to repair or replace the front crossmember in the frame. That won’t be cheap or quick, but I’ll still have way less money in the van than a decent used vehicle would cost.

Thought I’d post some pictures of the bathroom. I’m now writing some articles for the web and had to shoot some pictures of an RV bathroom last night so I have them. Ready? They’re in no particular order.

From the open side door

From the open side door

Looking forward with the door closed

Looking forward with the door closed

Complete with reading material!

Complete with reading material!

The touch light on the floor is just sitting there. Didn’t notice it until I uploaded this picture.

I still need to add interior wall paneling, but haven’t found the right stuff yet. That’s just one of the future things I’ll do to the interior. There’s still carpet work to do and wood trim yet to finish. I still haven’t installed an electric pump for the water supply yet, though I did manage to find a freshwater tank of about 5 gallon capacity (for free!) that will fit under one of the storage box/bed/seats in the rear.

I’m looking forward to actually getting to use Miteb for some camping this summer. I have given up tournament fishing which should give me much more free time. Although there is a new veggie garden coming to the backyard…

Posted by: miteb | September 13, 2008

Memory Walk, 2008

On Sunday, Sept 14th, I will join my daughter and her friend Maria and participate in the 2008 Memory Walk to support Altheimer’s research. This is personal for us … I was diagnosed with early onset Altzheimer’s this past spring. I’m the 3rd known member of my family to have this condition, and I’d love to be the last. Today an estimated 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, so,perhaps you also have a family member or friend who has it.

We have set a team goal of raising $1,000 in donations for this walk.. persons wanting to help can click on this link to donate any amount.

Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of death in this country (I think it’s 7th) and is on the increase. Only through properly funded research can we hope to reduce or eliminate this disease.

Posted by: miteb | September 4, 2008


The entire 10,000 miles I’ve had this van there has been a very loud rattling noise on bumps, and washboard areas were painfully annoying. Everyone who has ridden in the van has agreed it was horrible, but couldn’t pinpoint the source. Some said, “definitely rear”, a very few suggested it might be in the front, but,myself included, MOST thought the aluminum running boards were the culprit. I was so convinced of this I started to think about simply removing them. Then, just a couple of days ago I noticed that even very light pressure on the brake pedal would silence the noise! So, today I got a caliper hardware kit from a parts store we use and  replaced the hold-downs on the right front caliper. Eureka! No more noise! The kit cost? $7. Who knew??

Posted by: miteb | September 2, 2008


I found the “perfect” material for curtains in a discount store Saturday….  fabric shower curtains! $4.99 each, and two of them should be all the material I need. Add $9 for the heat bond to allow me to skip sewing, $12 for snaps and tools and that’s the cost of all of them.

I made a few mistakes, but the first one came out ok, though far from perfect.

Here’s a couple of pictures

Looking straight back over the bed

Looking straight back over the bed

Posted by: miteb | August 25, 2008

Wife’s first trip

We left yesterday for my wife’s first trip in MiteB, a visit to my Mom up in Maine. Round trip mileage was 574, which included a jog down to Grafton, MA for dinner with my daughter and son-in-law. By the time we got back into Mass. we were already running quite late for dinner, and we were both kind of wishing I hadn’t made the dinner date with them for the same day as our drive home, but we did go and had a great time with them and our 7 month old granddaughter.

The van ran wonderfully for the trip…no problems whatsoever, and averaged 14.74 mpg. That may not sound so great, but when you consider that this van replaces a Dodge Dakota that never got better than 15mpg for me I think it’s fantastic. The Dakota always felt too small to me, this thing I can eat, sleep, and do all the other normal living things in AND tow my boat comfortably also.

Anyway, the wife had a good time, which is very important to the grand scheme of things, which is for her and I to spend more time together now that we are (finally!) empty-nesters. We’ve been married 23.5 years, and I honestly don’t think there’s been a 6 month period when we didn’t have someone living with us! It’s important to me that this is our chance to do stuff together. We used to love camping, but as I got more involved with tournament bass fishing there was no time for it. Now I’ve been reminded how important family is to me and am cutting way back on the fishing stuff.  She had a good enough time this weekend to suggest that we try to find someplace to goand camp next weekend…which I’m al for!

It’s a good thing that MiteB is a work in progress,and not what I would consider “done”, as between us we discovered a few things that need improvement. For example, the foam for the bed isn’t dense enough, making the bed very hard. Also, that porta=potti is so low it’s hard for her to stand back up so she needs a grab handle of some type on the wall.  I don’t like the pressurized water system, it doesn’t hold pressure long enough.  I think I’m going to buy a 12 volt water pump from Graingers and put it on a switch. I want to change the way the TV gets its power too,so that the key doesn’t need to be in the ACC position to watch TV.

Anyway folks, that’s the update for today

Posted by: miteb | August 23, 2008


Things hae been very slow on the van of late… life interfered! This week has see some progress though, so I thought I’d record it.

First… Miteb has new shoes! The ones on it were getting very worn so I’ve been watching Craigslist and finally found a set of very good tires for the unbelievable price of $75! One of them has never even been mounted, the other 3 have very few miles on them. With my finances is the normal state ( which is to say… horrible!) I couldn’t afford new tires from a dealer, so I’m thrilled to have found these.

I also replaced the balljoints on the right side. Doing it myself I saved a ton! Used the company discount at one of our suppliers and managed to do both upper and lower for $63 and about an hour of labor. I feel like the truck is much safer now, though they weren’t as worn as I thought anyway.

And the best update is that the wood walls and trim are now stained! A friend did it for me while I worked yesterday ( cost me 2 packs of cigarettes and a 12 pack of Natural Light) and it looks pretty good! Best of all, the color came up as close to the color of the wood trim that was in the van anyway so I’m a happy man! I’ll give it another light sanding and a finish coat and then post pictures.

I’m traveling to Maine tomorrow.Will be spending the  night in Miteb, and looking forward to it!

Posted by: miteb | July 21, 2008


For lack of a better name..this is the pantry area. I raced the rain today to make it a wall panel that matches the bathroom door construction, and just made it!
I got lucky and got some tongue & groove oak boards (about 35 liner feet) for free at a job site I was on. I ripped it on the tablesaw to get rid of the tongue, and make it the same width as the frame of the aforementioned door, then I made the panels out of some of the remaining luan plywood, screwed it all together, put it up and added the upper shelf. Viola! A pantry!.
It sits back from the wall of the bathroom about 4 inches, but that is very hard to see in most of the pictures, so I took two more, one with the broom in that corner, and one straight down the pantry wall.
Speaking of that wall…. that’s where the picture frame I bought that holds 5 pictures is going…..all five of my grandkids will be with me everytime I’m in the van!

I just noticed that the one picture that shows that the wall is only 3/4 of an inch thick also makes it look like it’s made of rough cut lumber and has jagged edges…not so, it’s very straight and true.

Posted by: miteb | July 19, 2008


I think this is the cheapest (most frugal!) converstion possible! Here’s a list of what I’ve spent… I’ve tried to remember everything, even the screws.

Miteb costs
Item Cost
1996 Dodge B2500 van $850
1/4″ Luan plywood $0
Porta-Potti $15 (Craigslist)
1/2″ Plywood $18
3/4″ plywood $17
2×4’s cut up into 1.25×1.25 studs $0 (craigslist)
3″ Foam for seats $35
Fabric for seats $27
Generator $160 (with shipping!)
Dorm fridge $67
Garden sprayer $19
Faucet $14
Floor tiles $0 (left over from house project)
Screws $10
DTV box $20
Carpet $0 (new commercial grade! Wife’s friend)
Plumbing $20 (Guestimate for fittings and tubing)
Coleman stove $35 (w/ propane)
George Foreman grille $16 (WalMart)
Microwave $15 (Craigslist)
2 slice toaster $7 (WalMart)
Rear Dome light $6 (Over table)
Bathroom Accessories $6 (tp holder & towel ring)
Table cover $5 (This is temporary, just to cover the plywood top for now)
Total $1322

That’s all I remember right now.. if I think Of more I’ll amend this.
I didn’t include repair costs, so far I’ve done front pads & rotors and muffler & tailpipe.

Posted by: miteb | July 17, 2008

Jump ahead to the pictures

Well, typical me, I thought about taking pictures during the build, but didn’t for a couple of reasons…not the least of which is simply that I didn’t really know I was doing this much! However, it’s not done, so these are pretty much in progress shots anyway.

There are no pictures of the interior from before I started. I feel bad about that now. I would like you to see the contrast between then and now.

When the side doors are opened, this is what you see…

View in the side doors

View in the side doors

You’re looking at the “kitchen” to your left, the bathroom straight ahead. The cabinet for the kitchen isn’t done, and is going to be modified slightly. The door on the end (which you see partly open) will be the entire end of the cabinet, and made of cabinet grade maple plywood. Right now it’s just some scrap 1/2″ plywood I had so that I could close it up.
The kitchen contains the sink, faucet, mini-fridge and water system. The water is currently supplied to the sink with a 2.5 gallon garden sprayer, but I’ll be swicthing to a small electric pump before too much longer… the sprayer doesn’t hold pressure very long.

Just inside door is the drain tank, almost hidden to the right is the garden sprayer.

Just inside door is the drain tank, almost hidden to the right is the garden sprayer.

The sink itself is the only original piece from the previous owner's interior conversion. I sold the fridge before I even started, it was too big.

The sink itself is the only original piece from the previous owner's interior conversion. I sold the fridge before I even started, it was too big.

The cabinet will all be closed in when it’s done, and the edge of the counter top will be a thin band of oak to match the wood already in the conversion.

This area will be floored with commercial grade charcoal carpet, and the vertical sides will be oak boards, finished to match the factory interior wood.

This area will be floored with commercial grade charcoal carpet, and the vertical sides will be oak boards, finished to match the factory interior wood.

This recess in the floor was done by the previous owner. I can stand up straight here without hitting my head…barely.

Moving further back we see the bed/dinette area. This is the passenger side seat, which is also a storage box. Also visible is the 3″ PVC pipe that is the leg for the table. The unfinished piece of plywood you see in the back is part of the bed, it can be removed, but doesn’t need to be, when the table is up as it is in this picture. I made the boxes out of plywood and upholstered them with a heavy fleece fabric over plastic foam. I also made the seat cushions…. no wondered I waited until I was 59 to start using a sewing machine…it was a pain in the ass!

Lots of bulk storage here... these box seats are 24x39 inches! (Notice the tiled floor!)

Lots of bulk storage here... these box seats are 24x39 inches! (Notice the tiled floor!)

Did you notice the insulation? The panel is off the door because I need to replace the door latch and haven’t gotten one yet. The door is temporarily screwed shut from the inside.

This is the inside of the bathroom (fancy name for “porta-potti closet you can barely move in”). Still haven’t decided what the inside walls will be.. though I’m leaning toward that white paneling you see in some cheap motel baths and service stations.

Did anyone mention appliances? I have a toaster, small Forman grill, microwave and Coleman 2 burner stove (whch is seen in the sink pictures). The microwave is currently on a shelf, but this will be a cabinet at some point… although the plastic storage is pretty adaptable (and cheap!)

The converter is mostly behind this header, with just the front showing. All wiring is behind the header. There's a VCR behind that closed door.

The converter is mostly behind this header, with just the front showing. All wiring is behind the header. There's a VCR behnd that closed door.

This is how I mounted the converter box for the TV…

There will be more pictures to come as I finish things. The paneling is getting stained golden/aged oak… the carpet will be replaced with the new commercial grade stuff, and the cabinets will get finished.

Posted by: miteb | July 17, 2008

This is MiteB

MiteB is a pun…. it’s the name I came up with for my conversion van to camper van project and it indicates that is might be a B, but a small one.

It is a 1996 Dodge B2500 high top conversion van that I bought last winter for $850. When I bought it the previous owner had removed the middle seats, added a sink and bigger 3-way fridge, and made a recess in the floor to allow him to stand in the middle of the van. He also added a house battery and a battery selector switch.

If I had known I was going to buy a van and do this project I might have looked longer and bought a van that didn’t need body work… that’s on the “to-do” list.

Still has the for sale sign

Still has the for sale sign

This is a photographic tour of MiteB.