The Dirt Lab


I used a combination of BLACK PIPE and FLARE FITTINGS. Use black pipe 1/2" to deliver the propane to the sector where you need it, then use 3/8" copper tubing(refrigeration line) to make the final run to your appliance. OK that is the big picture. The copper line attaches to the black pipe via flare fittings. Determine where you want the copper line to exit the black pipe and install a T in the pipe.. With the T you have female threads. Screw in a male 3/8" flare fitting. Now you are ready to run this line to one appliance. Most appliances, heaters etc. will come with a 3/8" male flare. If not, you may have to a bit of mixing and matching to end up with the 3/8" male. There is no magic with the 3/8" size, it's just that there a more types of fittings available in this size. To connect your copper line you will need a female FF(flare fitting) on each end. To achieve this you will need a flaring tool. I was able to borrow one, but they are available at a modest cost. You don't need the best one as the copper tubing is very soft. OK here goes, slide the female flare nut on to the line and then use the flare tool to flare the end of the tubing. Repeat on the other end and you are done. Screw the female flare not onto the male flare that is on the appliance and you are done. A few more details. All pipe joints will require yellow pipe dope because of the propane. DO NOT USE TEFLON TAPE!! The flare fittings seal themselves. I brought one run of pipe in from the bay where my tanks and regulator are located and then used tees to take the pipe to the sectors where it was needed. Once you have your hands on the parts it is obvious how they go together. To test for leaks "soap" the joints. Use childrens bubble solution for best results. Remember the pressure of the propane AFTER the regulator is quite low. Call me if you need help. Ed 909-205-1013
Plumbing is plumbed

The had a welder fabricate a "cage" to support the grey water tanks. One tank for the shower and another for the kitchen sink. grey tank brace.jpg shower grey tank installed.jpg

All of the plumbing lines are run and the shower pan is in. Just waiting for the FRP to arrive to build the shower.
water pump plumbed.jpg shower pan installed.jpg sink installed.jpg


This Space For Rent
Will there be additional armor around the dump valve on that tank? That looks to be a magnet for damage and if struck, may take the whole tank with it. Something to think about.

I probably should have brought the dump out the front of the tank. This is one the things that I wish I had a "do over" on. It is amazing the number of decisions that you have to make when doing a build. it drives you crazy at times.


I probably should have brought the dump out the front of the tank. This is one the things that I wish I had a "do over" on. It is amazing the number of decisions that you have to make when doing a build. it drives you crazy at times.
Glad to know I'm not the only one going nuts, LOL.
Kitchen installed


Control panel is installed. The panel switches are labeled, there are separate controls for the kitchen and dinette lights. The stereo also has sirus radio.

Fridge (1).jpgFridge (2).jpg

For my wife, a NovaCool 7501 refrigerator. We know it is big, but da wife loves to cook. It is 12v, but also can run on 120 when we can plug in


Ikea sink and faucet installed.


The last piece of the kitchen, the propane stove. The only propane appliances will be the stove , the propex heater, plus a outside grill.

The kitchen is now complete. The bathroom is under construction. Once that is finished, the interior will be complete.

A few modifications will be done on the exterior. New tires and shocks, bulletproof the engine and some fabrication work for the bumper and storage bay.

This all needs to be done in in the next couple of months....


Hey Olddog- Just read the whole build thread; nicely done!
Concerning the 6.0- definitely NOT one of Navistar's finer efforts, but not as bad as some like to say either. Had one in a '03 F-250 for 9yrs/84,000mi, and the only real problem I had was the ICP sensor blew at approx. 60K miles; blew out all the oil, but the engine shut off before the oil pressure was gone. Was told this was NOT commonplace; other sources verify this; but something to watch for.
If you do not "chip" it or other stuff to get big power out of it, it will live. The only ones who had a real problem with head bolts were those pulling big power out of it or working it way over the truck's capacity.
One thing you might want to do is a good 4" exhaust system. It keeps the exhaust temps down and gives a little more power as the engine does less work pushing the exhaust out.
Keep the stock air cleaner; it's a Donaldson PowerCore, and is the best in the business.
Anyway, keep up the good work on the rig, and here's wishing you and your wife continued good health and safe travels!

On edit- You listed the propane appliances just above, but the water heater wasn't mentioned. Did you use it, or forgot to mention it? I was curious to see how well the Atwood OD-50 unit worked.
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Thanks for the input. We had a 2004 6.0 and wern't so lucky. At about 80K I had the oil cooler/EGR failure. Luckily I caught it in time and saved the motor. The bad news was that we were on the road and the cost was about 6K--ouch. Because of that, and because our rebuilt has only about 6K mi, I am going to go the Bulletproof route, but done by a local shop. On my other truck I did the 4" exhaust, but only form the CAT back as I live in CA. To be honest, I didn't see much change in how the truck performed. Thanks for the heads up on the "Donaldson Power Core" air cleaner. Good to know. The initial test of the Atwood on demand 50 went well. Very hot water, very quickly. It looks like a winner. We hope to have the bathroom done in two weeks and will post more pics then. Once the inside is complete it will be on the the outside, tires shocks, and rear bumper. Remember, all it takes is time and money. It will more of both than you can imagine. Good travels to you!!


Thanks for the comeback! On the exhaust- I too am in California (Central San Joaquin Valley); when the muffler shop first put on the exhaust, we left the catalytic converter off because it was close to closing time! For a few days, the exhaust had such a loud turbo whistle (very shrill too!) that I welcomed putting the converter back on! It got rid of the whistle, and I noticed no difference in performance. To me the main benefit was cooler exhaust temps, plus a small power increase. Plus, the larger pipe even looked a little better. The larger exhaust helps when working it hard, as the stock unit makes the turbo run a lot hotter. I never had any EGR-related problems, and credit the freer-flowing exhaust for that.
Thanks for the Atwood OD-50 comments! I think that is the coming thing in RV water heaters.
Cheers to you and yours!
Propex heater

The propex has the BTU output we needed for our interior. We were also able to vent to intake and outtake remotely, while installing it in a cabinet. There are several articles available on the ease of installation. We ordered our from Westy.
If you are planning on leaving North America one disadvantage of a propane space/water heater is relatively rapid use of gas and the need to refill often in cool/cold weather, which can be problematic depending on country and availability of adapters. Just using propane for cooking, I used a little over half of a 20 lb cylinder in 6mos of camping in Australia. And the truck carries 2 of them. So I figure I'm good for over 1.5 years of cooking.
A diesel heater like a Webasto runs off your main tank, refillable anywhere. And the more complicated hydronic system like the Thermo Top C does hot water also.
I think you will find that heating hot water and the camper interior with propane will deplete it quite rapidly.
Just a thought, sorry to have chimed in so late.
Also - regarding tires, if still unresolved, at least think about 335/80R20 Michelin XZLs (my preference) or Continental MPT81s. They have ~70% bigger footprint than 285/70R19.5s, much better ability to run at low pressures, likely a better ride. BUT they are hard to find and replace and will definitely require a lift of some sort and probably a diff ratio change, although if you have 4.88s possibly not.
If you go with an unusual tire I'd recommend an additional unmounted spare. I have 2 unmounted spares on my roof!

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We went ahead and bought the 4 propane tanks. They are now installed.

propane install.JPG propane top.JPG

The bathroom is being framed up and the cassette toilet is being installed.

bathroom frame.JPG

Things are finally coming together and the plan is to have the interior completed in the next couple of weeks. Then on to the exterior, new seats, some tires, and a rear bumper with spare tire carrier. Are there any must see designs for a bumper with a carrier for 2 spare tires?

Also, we have been thinking of a awning. However, the door is too high for a roof mount. Any thoughts?


Expedition Leader

Also, we have been thinking of a awning. However, the door is too high for a roof mount. Any thoughts?
You could mount one lower down and towards the rear leaving the door uncovered. That would give you probably about 6x6 to cook under etc.
Check out the one on Tony's thread AmboVan-Restarted

Or put a couple of supports out from above the door to keep the awning from getting caught on the door edge when it is open. Something like the ones they use for the windows on roof top tents. But instead ot through eyelets get pockets sewn into the actual awning.

Another alternative is to put a bigger awning on the other side of the vehicle. Not as convenient for RV parks but that shouldn't be an issue for where you guys go.
Build updates

The interior should be buttoned up in a couple of weeks. The wife was happy to do a test fit on the dinette/bed area.
Dirt Lab interior 012.jpg

Here you see the louvered doors to the bathroom on the right. The dinette covers to a queen sized bed at night. The pneumatic table base make the conversion easy. The cabinet doors above are being installed. They have been repositioned, painted and veneered. LED strip lights line the bottoms of the cabinets, as well as reading lights. There is storage under the benches, as well as the 2500 W Xantrex inverter and 2 200 amp/hour AGM batteries. The propex heater is installed under another bench as well

The bathroom was by far the most difficult part of the interior build, but we are extremely happy with the results
Dirt Lab interior 007.jpg

We have a CW-200 Thetford Cassette Toilet with the swivel seat. In the Photos you see a handle for a valve. That is to fill the cassette toilet with water. This model required the fill to be done for the outside, so we installed a water feed directly to the toilet. There is a small sink with storage underneath and an insert for bath products. The overall dimensions of the bath are 50" x 28". There is a small vent fan in the roof and louvered door for ventilation.

The wood/ laminate floors are in. We just need to finish the cabinets and drawers, install blinds and lots of touch up.

Yesterday we also had 6 new Goodrich 225/70/19.5 tires and new Monroe heavy duty shocks installed.
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