level the van before beginning buildout? - Ram Promaster Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
afox
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level the van before beginning buildout?

Hi Everyone, Ive started my build out. Im framing everything with 8020. I decided before installing the 8020 framing that everything should be square to the floor, for aesthetics, comfort, and so that sliding mechanisms will operate correctly. For example I am making a my platform bed adjustable height, basically 4 vertical 8020 4.5 cm "posts", bed platform frame will slide up and down.

So, in order to make everything square to the floor I had two options: use a framing square (would have to be a large framing square) to line everything upto the floor; or perfectly level the van based on the floor (basically place level on floor of van) using jacks/jackstands then install everything level to the earth using standard levels and a cheap bosch laser level (amazing device). I decided to use the second option and level the van first since this seemed like it would be easier and less error prone. Leveling the van to within standard center bubble tolerances was much more difficult than I had imagined. You really need 4 adjustable jacks as every time you raise one corner you affect 3 others due to the suspension. I know it sounds easy but trust me its not, of course my driveway is not perfectly level, it slopes just enough to drain water as most do. Ive decided the van cannot move until everything is framed out. I can do cabinet doors and panels and lots of other work that doesnt depend on the van being level after its framed out.

Just wondering how others have dealt with this issue, or how have you avoided having to deal with it? I searched the archives and didnt find any mention of this although in my searching I did learn that the PMs come from the factory with a floor that slopes towards the front of the van (higher in the rear). This is okay with me, after installing upto 1000 pounds of camper stuff I am hoping it will be more level. At some point maybe Ill look into raising the front of the vehicle using spacers or some other option.
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post #2 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 02:04 PM
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In the real world, it'll never be perfectly level when you go to camp. It can get close, and that'll be good enough. For your buildout though, sounds like you're trying to be perfect, which will, as you found out, take a REALLY long time.

For camping, I carry 5 of those lego blocks that I bought for a few bucks at the camping store. I can put 1-2 under the worst wheels and get to where the iPhone level shows 0-1 degree, and I call it done.
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post #3 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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So noone else makes their cabinets squre to the floor of the van?

I actually dont care if things are perfectly square either, the issue is when u have a sliding mechanism (such as a vertical movement platform bed), if not square the corners and attachment points will bind and not move properly. Also it can be more work to create doors and panels that are not square than square panels and doors, thus I wonder if making things square could be less work than the alternative?
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post #4 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afox View Post
So noone else makes their cabinets squre to the floor of the van?

I actually dont care if things are perfectly square either, the issue is when u have a sliding mechanism (such as a vertical movement platform bed), if not square the corners and attachment points will bind and not move properly. Also it can be more work to create doors and panels that are not square than square panels and doors, thus I wonder if making things square could be less work than the alternative?
It sounds like you are referring to plumb, as opposed to level. I have a bed that can be manually raised, so yes the vertical supports (one at each corner) must be plumb so as to not bind when raising the bed. The bed is level (fore and aft) with the floor, which means the head (aft) of the bed is slightly raised from level due to the fact the rear of the promaster is jacked up in the rear. I have fore-aft bed set up so this is not an issue while sleeping, plus I can adjust the bed for level inside the van by inserting blocks where needed beneath the bed frame.

Sherpa is a 2016 3500 Ext. Diesel, Black - Our off grid cycling adventure vehicle. Also my Daily Driver. Follow my build and our adventures on https://www.instagram.com/sherpathevan/
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post #5 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 05:03 PM
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Make things square and plumb to the floor on the inside. Forget about leveling the van as it will sit lower as you add weight to it anyhow.

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post #6 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 05:12 PM
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afox,

You will find the aluminum framing profile a joy to work with! My build out is extensive using another brand of profile by a company called "Item".

I would not recommend levelling the van, you will end up chasing your tail endlessly and the build will actually be less accurate and far more difficult to execute.

Stick with the the big square method. You can either buy a drywall square or build squares out of the profile. I built my squares out of my profile to suit as I needed them and when I was finished with them I recycled them back into the build.

You should find that the chassis is surprisingly true. The only exception I found was the factory wood floor, although it makes the build easy to start from as a foundation it is not really a flat surface. The adhesive they use to adhere it to the steel floor is applied unevenly.

I built all my cabinets square and parallel to the floor. Once you have your measurements for any cabinet unit you then just build them square in your shop and install them.

If you take the time to tune your chop saw perfectly so you get square cuts every time and build a good fence out of your profile with a measuring stop you will produce beautiful true and square cabinets. Make sure to invest in a high quality carbide blade specifically for cutting aluminum and use cutting past.

Good luck and have fun!

Cheers,

Dave

Last edited by 166322; 03-22-2018 at 01:58 PM.
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post #7 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 06:04 PM
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Great stuff! I'm a fan of building with aluminum as well. Although not that fancy. Built a fair amount of stuff with aluminum screening framing. I had a screened porch (lanai) that I took down, so I have tons of old scrap. You use what you have.

You also answered my related question. Do you put things together in the shop, or in the van? It's hard to tell from some people's videos and blogs, but I assume it's a bit of both.
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post #8 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardog View Post
Great stuff! I'm a fan of building with aluminum as well. Although not that fancy. Built a fair amount of stuff with aluminum screening framing. I had a screened porch (lanai) that I took down, so I have tons of old scrap. You use what you have.

You also answered my related question. Do you put things together in the shop, or in the van? It's hard to tell from some people's videos and blogs, but I assume it's a bit of both.
Yes you are right a bit of both with lots of test fits

Dave
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post #9 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Dave Not Home and everyone else. Dave, the pics of your van build are awesome, it look like the space station, very cool and functional. Dave, do you have a build thread or online gallery with more pics of your build? I could learn lots from pictures of what you've done. Where did you source the white paneling? I scored when a local bought a lot of rexroth (a bosch 8020 like system) from a failed solar manufacturing facility and parted out the equipment on craigslist. I probably have 1000 pounds of extrusion, hardware, laptop mounts, pivoting arms, you name it so mine is going to be an all 8020 build. Im using 4.5 cm extrusion for the bed platform/outer frame cabinets, surprisingly its not as heavy as you'd expect. Quick pic from day one below. I didnt check for flatness of the floor before beginning. I agree with what you say about using a drywall square, that would work and would be easier than leveling the van. Now that its level and I bought this tool Ill continue with building things level to the earth (aka plumb).

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post #10 of 34 Old 08-14-2017, 08:01 PM
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Level is HORIZONTAL Plumb is VERTICAL If you use these differently (aka wrong) every builder of any sort will think you are a bubble off plumb.

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