a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
Installing a Van Shower – Part 1: The Grey Water Tank
Installing a Van Shower – Part 1: The Grey Water Tank

Installing a Van Shower – Part 1: The Grey Water Tank

Grey Water Tank

When we first started traveling with our van, there were a few things that we did not want, like running water and a toilette. After traveling out west for a few weeks, we decided that it would be nice to be independent of campsites for a few days at a time. For our latest and hopefully last remodel, we added a sink, shower, and toilette to our custom van build. However since we were remodeling while working full time in Michigan in the winter, the remodel had to happen in stages. The first step for us was installing the grey water tank.

Custom Van Build
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Our Previous Custom Van Layout

Step 1: Measuring and Designing Your Custom Van Build

After deciding to add a shower, we had to reconfigure our van build. First, we were going to put the shower directly next to the bed and put the fresh water tank over the wheel well. Then, we decided to put the shower behind the drivers seat and put the fresh water tank under the bed. After some careful measuring and research, we finally decided on putting the refrigerator under the bed and all the shower components under a bench behind the driver’s seat.

This plan works best for the layout we wanted, with the goal of having a larger open-space layout and bench seating.

As usual.. all of our van projects start with a lot of grid paper for concepts and brain-storming…

Custom Van Build Blue Print
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Custom Van Build – Final Design

Step 2: Ordering all the parts and supplies

With a plan in place, we had to get the supplies together. Since we were working on this project on evenings and weekends, we didn’t want to get partially through a project and have to stop because we didn’t have the tools and supplies needed. This means that our house was full of supplies for a few weeks, but having all the supplies meant that each part of the project went smoothly (most of the time).

Gray Water Tank Installation Supplies

After crawling around under the van a few times, we decided to order a grey water tank kit from Vanlife Outfitters. The grey water tank already comes pre-formed to the underbody of the van, along with the brackets, rivet nuts, bolts, dump outlet, inlet holes, and really great instructions. In addition to ordering the pre-fitted tank, we had to purchase a few tools, a rivet nut setter, a step drill bit, and a 2″ hole saw.

The last few pieces connecting the grey water tank to the inside of the van proved to be the trickiest. We had a drain, but we needed the correct length attachments through the floor of the van to the drainage tube below. After a few trips (many, many trips) to the hardware store, we finally had the correct combination of elbows, barbs, and adaptors. With sealant and hose clamps, we were finally ready to complete the first stage of our van shower project. Check out Part 2 and Part 3 of our Custom Van Shower Build for the rest of the parts need for this project.

Step 3: Start Building

The grey water tank kit from Vanlife Outfitters made the tank installation really smooth. We were able to install it in just a few hours. Zach from Vanlife Outfitters also has a really helpful video detailing the installation process of the Promaster Undermount Grey Water Tank. The tank itself has a 26 Gallon capacity.

Andrew started by crawling under the van to drill or enlarge holes in the frame for the rivet nuts.

Then it was time to install the rivet nuts. We marked all of the proper hole locations before hand using automotive markers.

Once all 6 rivet nuts were in place, it was time to attach the grey water tank with the brackets. This process is easier with two people and a creeper, although space under the van limits the final installation to one person. If you are installing the tank solo, a jack can be used to hold the tank in place while you attach the brackets.

Grey Water Tank Brackets
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Installing Brackets for Supporting the Grey Water Tank

Once the tank was attached to the frame of the van, we called it a day and decided to attach the drain the next morning. Since installing the tank was such a breeze, we assumed the drain attachment would be just as easy. Not quite.

There is nothing more nerve wracking or satisfying than drilling a hole through a perfectly good vinyl floor and aluminum body of your custom built van…

After measuring, calculating, taping and measuring two more times, we started by pilot drilling the drain hole with a long drill bit. Whoops!?! Thank goodness we did, otherwise we would have drilled right through the chassis. Ultimately, we shifted the location of the whole shower pan back a few inches. Subsequently, we used the 2″ hole saw for the final cut.

Drain to Grey Water Tank Diagram
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Drain to Grey Water Tank Diagram

Once we had a hole through the floor of the van, it was all about getting the correct length fittings down to the drain tube. This is difficult to calculate before drilling a hole. The distance through the floor is shorter than you think. At last, we connected the drain directly to a barbed elbow with an adaptor.

Drain to Grey Water Tank Hose
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Drain to Grey Water Tank Hose

Then voila, stage one of our shower installation project was complete.

Shower Pan Installed
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Shower Pan Installed

Time for stage two: actually building out the shower inside the van! Check out part 2 of our van shower installation!

Items Used For This Project

Tools:

  • Drill
    • Drill Bit Set
    • Long Drill Bits
    • 2″ Hole Saw
    • Step Bit
  • LED Flashlight
  • Automotive Creeper
  • Rivet Nut Setter
  • Hack-saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Painters Tape
  • Automotive Markers
  • Hand Ratchet (M8 Socket)

Supplies:

  • Promaster Undermount Grey Water Tank
  • WD-40
  • Thread Lock
  • Spray Paint (for rust prevention)
  • 1.5″ Wet-Exhaust Hose
  • Hose Clamps
  • All-Weather Sealant
  • 1.5″ Barbed X NPT Male (x2)
  • 1.5″ PVC Elbow (Female)
  • 1.5″ PVC Adaptor (Female)
  • 1.5″ Shower Drain
  • 27″x24″x4″ Shower Pan

Hope you are having success with your build. Thanks for reading. ~KiteBikeVan

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