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  • Nate Murphy

Aaron and Meg's Pro Master Van Conversion Fit for a Luxury Chef

You don’t often see vans with comprehensive kitchen set-ups. But Aaron and Meg’s 2019 Pro Master van conversion has raised the bar.

About Aaron and Meg

Before embarking on their van life journey, Aaron and Meg both lived at sea. Meg was a private superyacht chef and Aaron was a first officer. So they were both accustomed to travelling and not having a static home. They realised that they wanted the opportunity to explore the world on their own terms. In particular, they wanted to see what America and its adjacent countries have to offer.

So with that in mind, they bought a 2019 Ram Pro Master, which they’ve named Van Damme. After some consideration, they decided that now was the perfect time in their life to go travelling i.e. before they settle down and have children. All in all, they spent around 2.5 months converting their van into a home. Aaron says that he really enjoyed the build, and would love to do it again. However, neither of them are good with plumbing or electrics, so the van was mostly built by Ben Williams in Nashville.

The van was built with the galley in mind, because they knew they would spend a lot of time cooking. You have to think about what suits your lifestyle. Initially, they thought a beautiful large kitchen would be their main focus. But they didn’t think about the limitations this would bring.

Both Aaron and Meg love van life. The beauty of having a home on wheels is being able to take it from A to B whenever you want. They believe that living on the road encourages you to meet people and make friends with them along the way.


Follow them on Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/van_damme_c...

Subscribe to their on YouTube; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClYy...

Check out their website to have them build you a van; https://www.vandammeconversions.com/


Specifications

  • 2019 Ram ProMaster– It is a second-hand van, having only been used for 5 months prior to them purchasing. It was a really good find, and comes with low mileage and extended warranty.

  • 159-inch wheelbase and extended high roof– One of Aaron and Meg’s friends had a ProMaster and when they stepped inside it they knew they’d found the van for them. Aaron stands at 6-feet tall, so the extended height means he doesn’t have to crouch. There are around 2 inches of clearing space between the roof and Aaron’s head.

Kitchen and Appliance

  • 21-inch Furrion oven– As a professional chef, it was important for Meg to have a good oven so she could continue cooking whilst on the road. Their Furrion oven is nice and big, it can fit 1 (possibly 2) whole chickens in, which means they can enjoy a Sunday roast.

  • 3-burner stovetop.

  • Slide-out pantries– This is where they store their herbs, spices and dry goods. It’s a great space-saver. The design allows Meg to access things while working and cooking on the opposite side of the van.

  • Walnut benchtop – 8 square feet. Ideal for slicing and dicing.

  • Fridge – They chose a fridge that has a big swinging door so they can access it from their outside dining area.

  • Interior table – This can be lowered or raised to the perfect height. It is multi-purpose – they use it for both dining and as an office desk.

  • Blue porcelain splashback – When they were looking around at different van designs, Aaron and Meg noticed that most of them stick to white themes. This is intended to make the space feel bigger and brighter, which is understandable. However, they wanted to add a bit of pizazz to their van so they fitted a blue-tiled splashback. Initially, this was Meg’s idea, but it’s now one of Aarons favourite features of the van.

  • Deep sink– Ideal for washing the big pots and pans that they use whilst cooking.

  • Pop up benchtop – This sits in front of the sliding side door. The extra countertop space means Meg has enough space to spread out whilst cooking, and she can also cook for larger parties.

Sleeping

  • Fixed queen-sized bed– Since Aaron is 6ft tall, they knew it was important to get at least a queen-sized mattress. That way he can sleep comfortably without having to scrunch up. Their mattress is big enough for two people, and allows Aaron to fully stretch out.

  • Wooden mountain headboard– This is one of Meg’s favourite features of the van. To put her individual style on the van, she created a nice mountain-scape headboard for behind the bed.

Bathroom

  • Subway tiled– Their small bathroom space sits behind the driver’s seat. They chose this design as it meant they didn’t have to compromise on the other things they wanted. The bathroom is tiled from ceiling to floor in white, thin ceramic tiles.

  • Removable Brazilian hardwood flood.

  • Natures Head Composting toilet– This has two separate containers: one for liquids and one for solids. The toilet is odourless, which means no nasty smells leak out into the rest of the van.

  • Shower– When designing the van, a shower was one of their ‘must-haves’. It was important that they could come home after a long day of adventuring and be able to easily take a shower without having to go searching for somewhere to clean. Their full-sized shower is connected to a tankless water heater with an adjustable temperature gauge.

Power and Electrical

  • 3 x 100-watt solar panels– These sit on the roof of the van, they are connected to a solar controller.

  • 170-amp power lithium battery– Initially Aaron thought he would need two batteries because they are very power-hungry. But it turns out that he only needs one. From the battery, he runs his 12v system.

  • 2000-watt Pure Sine inverter charge– This feeds the 110v system i.e the fridge. When they first moved into the van, Aaron was very paranoid about power and thought he would constantly run out. However, he’s had no problems, this system provides him with enough power.

  • 3 ways of powering the battery:the sun, charging relay that’s hooked up the alternator when they’re driving, and external shore power.

  • Shore power socket– This is fitted onto the side of the van. It allows them to plug into family and friend’s electricity supply. However, they haven’t had to use this at all.

  • 6.9-gallon propane gas tank– The tank is mounted horizontally between the axle and the spare tyre. It lasts them a couple of months, on average. Propane gas feeds their oven, tankless water heater, and stove. Their filling socket is located on the side of the van.

Heating and Cooling

  • Maxx Air fan– This can either pull air in or push air out. It was an expensive purchase but works really well.

  • 1 x side window- This custom-built window slides open. It has a mesh screen to keep bugs out. When used in conjunction with the Maxx air fan it creates really good ventilation inside the van.

  • 2 x back windows– At the back of the van there are two more custom-built windows. Again, they’re fitted with mesh screens to keep bugs out. Unlike the side windows, these open vertically. They are heavily tinted on the outside to ensure that nobody can see inside the van. They’re also fitted with blackout blinds that reflect the sun to keep the van nice and cool during the night time.

Water System

  • 30-gallon freshwater tank– Aaron and Meg enjoy going off-grid for extended periods, so they needed to choose a big water tank. Aaron notes that they do have to be conservative while they’re on the road and not near a water source, but for the most part the tank meets their needs.

  • Tankless water heater – This has its own temperature gauge, which was a selling point for Aaron as he enjoys really hot showers. It also means they can fill their sink with really hot water for washing dishes.

  • Water fill station – On the side of their van Aaron fitted a water fill station. Much like a gas cap, this is locked with a key. It also has a carbon water filter to purify the water before it goes into the tank.

  • Screw-in city water – If Aaron and Meg are parking at a friend or family’s house, this allows them to utilise their water supply. They can connect their van to an external water source and have endless amounts of water inside the van.

Storage

  • Wardrobe– Their wardrobe space consists of one large overhead cupboard, one rail, and two drawers.

  • White shaker style overhead cupboards.

  • 2 black hooks.

Comfort

  • 2-person bench– In theory, this is big enough for two people, but in practicality it’s kind of tight. Underneath the bench is a large cupboard, which they use to store dry food.

  • Pull out seat– Aaron and Meg swapped one of their clothes drawers for a pull-out seat. This transforms the seating area into an L-shape. This allows them to stretch out and seat more people.

  • Pivoting table– The premise behind this table is versatility. They knew they wanted a space indoors for eating and working, but they also wanted the option of taking the table outdoors.

Exterior

  • Exterior shower– This is ideal for washing their dirty feet or snow boards after a day out.

  • Space for snowboards and road bikes.

  • 30-foot awning– This extends 8 feet away from the van and has lights underneath.

  • 30-amp plugin– This is great if they’re in a cold environment and want to put their ceramic heater on inside the van but the battery cant handle it.

  • Tow bar– Initially they fitted a swinging bike rack to the back of their van. However, they noticed that people were trying to steal their bikes. If you have an expensive bike, Aaron recommends storing it inside the van to deter thieves.

Special Features

  • Red cedar wood deck– Aaron and Meg covered the roof of their van with 6 x 9 cedar wood from Nashville. It transforms the roof of their van into another leisure space. They climb to the top of the van and do yoga, stargazing, chilling etc. They love being up there and watching the world go by.

  • Cell phone signal booster– This is a big necessity when you live and work from your phone/computer. It helps to boost the signal of your devices and ensure that you have good WiFi. The only downside is that it only extends 5-10 feet away from the aerial.

Check out the full tour of Aaron and Meg's van over on my YouTube:


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© 2019 Nate Murphy

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