Let me introduce you to Mr. Knightley and come along on our journey as we achieve our dreams of driving the road less traveled to explore the beautiful landscapes, vistas and enticing towns. For over 7 years we had imagined and dreamed of building a camper van to explore. In 2020 we downsized, moved our home base and bought our van the beginning of 2021!
Our 2020 AWD Ford Transit 350, EcoBoost 148 Long, High Roof
- 2020 AWD Ford Transit
- All Wheel Drive
- 3.5 L Engine, V6
- 5,823 lbs – original van weight empty
- 1,757 lbs – Campervan build weight
- 7,580 lbs – Campervan build plus original van total weight
- 8,760 lbs – Campervan build plus fully loaded total weight
- 9,500 lbs – GVWR maximum weight capacity (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
- 5,000 lbs – towing capacity, see formula below
- 12,500 lbs, GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating)
- 15 MPG Average on 50/50 Highway/City after build and packed
Since Bill has worked remotely for 17+ years and our kids are mostly on their own, we moved to a smaller house, a simpler life and we have been ready to make our dream a reality. In January of 2021, vans were hard to come by. It seems many had the same idea that we did and there was even more competition to purchase vans, new or used, for commercial deliveries as Covid pushed more buying online.
Bill says, “Hey Honey! How about a day trip to look at vans to see if anyone has any?” This was not out of the blue for him. I rolled with it, but it was no longer a far off dream. I can’t count how many times we eyed all of the van options and weighed the pros and cons of each to build our camper van.
As Bill is 6’2″, we wanted a tall roof and realized that the Ram ProMasters might be too short and we didn’t want to deal with the Sprinter costs and inconveniences to maintain or worry about diesel fuel, even though that kind of gasoline was cheaper then.
Well, surprise, surprise, there was one Ford Transit, high roof with the 148′ wheel base to fit in the drivewayl AND it was All-Wheel Drive!! This van was the perfect package for our dream vacation home on wheels so we bought it new off the lot. We have loved our choice and traveled in it as we built, tried and changed to make it perfect for us.
The name Mr. Knightley comes from one of the main characters in Jan Austen’s novel Emma. Bill and I have this running debate about which of the gentlemen, Mr. Knightley from Emma or Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is the best gentleman. Well, since I think Mr. Knightley takes the title, I am the one who wanted to name the van, and his name goes best with our theme Goodnight Trail, then Mr. Knightley it is! – Ahem, “Knightley” for short.
Our camper van has two bench seating with comfortable capacity for 4-6 people. Convertible benches easily transform into an oversized, almost queen bed. We have solar power and engine powered batteries that continuously run our refrigerator/ freezer drawer which can keep a couple of weeks worth of food including ice cream that doesn’t even get soft.
- 4 100 Lithium Renogy Batteries giving 400 AH of 100% usable
- 2 (200 watt) Solar Panels by Renogy
- 13 Gallon Gray Tank installed inside for better winter travel temps
- 20 Gallon Fresh Water Tank installed inside for better winter travel temps
- 4 Gallon Hot Water Tank by Isotemp with convenient drain for winterizing
We built cubby storage boxes along the back rest of the bench seating. One side holds all of our queen- size bedding for all seasons and a mattress topper. The other side holds our portable awning and a plethora of other things like winter coats and other extras. Our walls are water proof painted plywood and covered with marine vinyl over the Thinsulate insulation.
A portable shower easily pushes away to make for an open-concept tiny home when not in use and a portable potty box is cleverly hidden in a cabinet that doubles as a foot stool or extra cushioned bench seat.
Check out my article that compares what we don’t love about a cassette toilet vs our new compost potty, the best portable potty for a camper van or rv. A microwave and convection stovetop in addition to our very large refridgerator/freezer make for convenient home-cooked meals and leftovers.
Have a goodnight on the trail, wherever you are on your journey.