- Cut the draining board part off the metal sink. Not too much – leave around 20cm to act as a step into the shower.
- Make a hole in the floor of the van to take the plug hole of the sink. Depending on the thickness of your floor you might have to attach a drain hose as you install the sink. Remember to check under the van to see where the water is coming out. You have to decide whether you want the water to drain into a grey-water tank or just out into the nature. As we only use environmentally sound cleaning products, we just let the water out onto the ground. The outlet is just behind the rear wheel which means we can back up onto a piece of grass or even over a city rain-water sewer. Ultimately we could just put a container under the outlet to catch the water – we don’t have space in or under our truck for grey-water tanks and, in any case, they wouldn’t make much sense in most of the countries we travel.
- Build a box under the lip of the sink so that the whole thing sits level on floor and won’t distort or bend if you stand in it.
- Build the rest of the shower, with the size of the sink as your minimum limiting size and the size of you and your truck as the maximum. My average physical build finds the 45cm x 60cm sink sufficient. The cheapest shower build would be plywood with a good coat of waterproof varnish and paint. I noticed that in North America, showers in houses were always a one-piece plastic surround which must be pretty easy to find, recycle and adapt. You can even tile the shower if you don’t have any issues with weighing your truck down. Surprisingly, well done tiling will survive thousands of miles of bumpy roads although you can use vibration-proof glues, grouting and polymers to be super safe.
- Seal the entire structure, paying extra attention, of course, to where the walls meet the metal sink. Also the draining board segment that you have left is corrugated so seal that up well too.
- Make sure the doors are as snug and tightly fitting as you can get them – and put a shower curtain in that’s long enough to hang inside the sink itself.
- For the shower itself, use a 12V submersible pump that can be dropped into any tank or container (with an opening big enough). These pumps are notorious for not lasting all that long – remember never to use it out of the water and always let it dry off after use. We had problems finding such a pump in USA, where they prefer these massive RV in-line pumps that cost $100 and are too powerful. Too much power means you’re going to be using a lot of water – they’re designed for a mammoth American RV where the tank might be 7m away from the actual shower and the owner is after, essentially, a real-house-experience. With a submersible pump, you can put the water container right outside the shower. A good quality pump (which will still only cost $30 in Europe) will lift water 3m and still give a good pressure at the business end. This means you can lead the shower hose out of a window to a container that’s been heated by the sun or by wood and is too heavy to bring inside. The point is that if you don’t fix the pump to anything, and leave it free to move, you have endless options in terms of your water source. Remember, however, to take a spare along with you…
- 12V submersible pumps have a waterproof cable attached to them. You need to add an extension to this, as lengthy as your hose will ever be. At some point close to the shower, take the positive wire to bring into the shower to feed into a switch and then back out towards your batteries. It doesn’t have to be a fancy waterproof switch. As long as you don’t direct the shower directly at it, putting the switch higher up the shower wall then you won’t be having any problems here. Remember, it’s only 12V.
- You can also put a light with its own switch onto this positive feed – unless you’ve got a skylight in the roof and you only take showers during the day.