Of water and the spirit (making overland camper water tanks)

The making of an overland camper water tank: we have been doing a little series of blog entries about nomadic fire and water, the titles of which we borrowed from the name of that great book.

This one is going to be about how to make a hot water system to run from the engine of the truck, to heat up the drinking water. The main problem with having water tanks on living trucks is that if you have them outside they freeze in the winter, and as we tend to be journeying through some cold fronts for some reason, and as we always end up having serious snow in winter, we decided that this time around we will have a heated water tank. It means we can de-ice the tank very quickly so we can use it in deep cold, but also that if we run the system whilst driving we can have a very hot shower the other side.

Again like in the stove design we have shared this is my personal design, but it is an adaptation from a pattern taught to me by a fellow nomad that has spent considerable time building live-in trucks.


4x4 camper water tank

Stainless steel water tank

The first step is to find or make a suitable tank, stainless steel of course is best. Next you need to make a hole at the bottom and drive a stainless steel pipe or coil (preferred) this must be welded shut so it is not open and the water running through it does not interact with the drinking water.

Overland camper water tank

Hole for heat element

Overland camper water tank

Heat element pipe through tank

overland camper water system

Heat Element welded with stainless steel wire

At the end of the pipe there are connectors for the water pipes, so if you are still unclear, the water running through this new pipe is the radiator water so it is not drinking water and should never mix with the tank water, next step is to make brackets on your truck.

overland camper brackets

Water tank brackets made

Put the tank in, and connect the pipes.

Mercedes overland camper water tank

Water tank in place

Mercedes 814 4x4 hot water system

pipes and valves

Next and last thing is to split the radiator pipes in two places (you can use the heater pipes) and run them to the the tanks. Make sure to put valves in the pipes so you can shut them off, because you don’t always want to be boiling your drinking water, nor even heat it in those hot summery days.

2 thoughts on “Of water and the spirit (making overland camper water tanks)

  1. hey guys, hope this finds u loving the day.. :0.. i have just bought a 811 from the bbc and after i pull out the millions of wires i am going to be looking for a handy someone to convert it into my new home.. i saw u mentioned in ur post about fitting hot water into the van that u got the design from someone that converts this type of bus.. If there is anyway u might be able to impart their contact details i would be grateful.. Thanks in advance.. blue skies.. mark.

  2. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community.
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