If you were to do one “extra” thing for your van, put on roof racks and make a solar heated shower (okay, that’s two things). The shower detailed below will hold 5 gallons and weighs about 20 lbs.
What you need (almost everything you need is found in the plumbing department at Home Depot):
- Drill – 3/4″ and 11/32″ bit
- PVC primer and glue
- Contact cement
- A 4’x4″ piece of PVC pipe
- Two 4″ PVC end caps
- One 4″ T PVC fitting with threaded top opening.
- One 4″ 45 degree elbow fitting.
- One hose spicket with nylon nuts- (you need to borrow a second washer from another spicket.)
- Rubber hose washers
- Short Hose
- Hose Nozzel
- One bike tube (Schrader Valve) or a Gasket Car tire valve stem
- Black Paint
- Jump box w/ compressor
- Construction – The first step is to decide if your Schrader Valve used for pressurizing will be in the end cap or in the thredded cap of the T fitting. If placing the Schrader Valve through the threaded cap of the T fitting, a gasket car tire valve stem will work better. If constructing an end cap that has a spicket and Valve in it, drill two holes on the face of the end cap using the 3/4″ and 11/32″ drill bit. The spicket must have a rubber hose washer and threaded nylon nuts on both the inside and outside of the end cap. Before tightening the washers and nuts smear generous amounts of silicone around the opening to create an air tight seal. Next, cut out the Schrader Valve from the bike tube leaving a square inch of rubber around the valve. Smear contact cement on the rubber around the valve and slide the valve through the 11/32″ hole. With the valve poking though, surround the base of the valve stem with silicone. While that is drying cut the 4′ section of PVC into two pieces. The next step is to prep for assembly. You will want to make sure you are in a well ventilated area, outside if possible. PVC primer and glue is extremely potent and will leave you feeling real loopy. You should coat any surface that will be glued with a thin layer of primer. This means inside the end caps and T fitting. Be aware that PVC glue dries quickly. Once the primer is dry read the gluing instruction and start gluing piece by piece. Make sure that the threaded T fitting opening is facing up and the spicket on the end cap is facing down. Our shower does not use a 45 degree elbow, but this piece will keep the spicket opening submerged until all the water in the shower is used. Once everything is dried, scuff up the entire shower with sandpaper. Cover the spicket, valve stem and T fitting opening with paper and tape. Grab your black paint and give it a good covering. Using a rubberized paint will give you the most durable finish. Get creative, make improvements and send me pictures.
- Installation – To secure it to the roof rack I used zip ties rated for a weight of 175 lbs/tie. There may be much better methods, but it has held up so far.
- Home To Use – Fill the shower nearly all the way. Use vaseline to coat the threads of the T fitting. The vaseline keeps air from escaping. Hand tighten the the T fitting cap. Connect your air compressor to the valve stem and pressurize the system to about 30 psi. During the course of your shower, you may have to re-pressuize depending on how dirty you are.
- If you don’t feel like getting high on glue vapors or lack the space to make your own shower, GoWesty sells a rugged aluminum version.