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After looking at everyone else's build threads for inspiration, I decided to start my own. Unlike most, mine lacks about any craftsmanship, was poorly planned and built as I go.

I started almost a year ago in June 2018, so I will do my best to keep it in order and get myself to real time.

This is not my first van, but is my first modern van. I grew up racing mountain bikes and had an assortment of cheap cargo vans that I'd throw free couches in the back and travel around sleeping on the couch. The goal was to make a slightly more adult version of that.

The van: Even acquiring the van was a hack job. I was going to purchase a 2016 window van that had a luxury shuttle upfit from my employer. I had a price, a loan, and insurance on it as well as the first trip planned when I found out due to a strange policy, I could not purchase the van without it going through auction- so with one week before my trip, I found a similar mileage one for the same price. I ended up with a no window 2019 159"HR with 16k miles for $23,500
 

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So with the van purchased, we sat out on our first adventure. A decision I’m glad we made as it gave me at least some direction on what I needed.

We brought a portable ac unit which we found extremely helpful when parked at shore power and that has stayed with the design. We found out how important a roof vent was and we realized an elevated bed was a must so we wouldn’t have to remove bikes to sleep. We also realized we must have a fridge.




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That's a pretty good price.

As I've learned myself, it's fine to pace yourself to do the build, especially for a weekender outdoors vehicle. I've slowly been building mine since January, and I find that I don't need things that I thought I did at the beginning of the process.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
For the first project I got started on the floor, which was a first lesson in measuring. I ended the floor at the little ridge on the back, but the door actually sets about 2” further back. I also made my front cuts to go around the B pillar trim when I should have removed it and trimmed it. Would have been much cleaner.

I used 3/4 tongue and groove plywood on top of 3/4 polyiso. I’d rather have not done 3/4 polyiso but it’s the only thickness available in my area. I used a paper template and that got it pretty close. It’s all held down to the factory tie down points.



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After looking at everyone else's build threads for inspiration, I decided to start my own. Unlike most, mine lacks about any craftsmanship, was poorly planned and built as I go.

I started almost a year ago in June 2018, so I will do my best to keep it in order and get myself to real time.

This is not my first van, but is my first modern van. I grew up racing mountain bikes and had an assortment of cheap cargo vans that I'd throw free couches in the back and travel around sleeping on the couch. The goal was to make a slightly more adult version of that.

The van: Even acquiring the van was a hack job. I was going to purchase a 2016 window van that had a luxury shuttle upfit from my employer. I had a price, a loan, and insurance on it as well as the first trip planned when I found out due to a strange policy, I could not purchase the van without it going through auction- so with one week before my trip, I found a similar mileage one for the same price. I ended up with a no window 2019 159"HR with 16k miles for $23,500
Congrats on the progress! You're doing well!

My own conversion is also a hack job but progress has been glacial. If anything, I'm OVER-planning and -researching and -thinking and it's taken a toll.

Keep blasting away at it and it's better to be useful and in use than being forever worked on like mine and still not yet made its maiden voyage.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Congrats on the progress! You're doing well!



My own conversion is also a hack job but progress has been glacial. If anything, I'm OVER-planning and -researching and -thinking and it's taken a toll.



Keep blasting away at it and it's better to be useful and in use than being forever worked on like mine and still not yet made its maiden voyage.


Thanks. Yeah I keep thinking and planning. Then I’d remember how many people’s builds I followed that changed things or completely rebuilt so I figured at times just do something and worst case I’ll learn from it.


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You’re doing fine. You’re correct, you and many of us are constantly making changes in our build as our needs change. If it comes out poorly you can always redo something (other than that oversized hole in the roof or side ;) ).

I gotta ask tho - what is the hatchet for? I don’t know many van converters that find them useful for anything other than pounding tent stakes in and splitting wood. Is it a "finish" hatchet or just a "roughing in" one?
 

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The one thing I did extremely carefully was install my maxxfan. Went with the maxxfan because in florida, it’s essential to be able to have it running during rain.

I used the Hein adaptor with with 3m windshield urethane he recommends in the instructions. I hung a plastic sheet on the inside with a magnet in the middle to catch shaving and used painters tape and paper up top to keep things clean.

I used flex seal after everything was mounted but then we got some light rain so the last pic is with it covered while the short rain passed.




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Discussion Starter #9
After I had the fan mounted I went ahead with insulation. This was the most procrastinated part of my build but probably the easiest once I got started. Again went with 3/4 polyiso due to availability. I held it all up with great stuff windows and doors after researching many other build threads.

I may, down the road add some thinsulate. At least on the ceiling as I’ll have some extra space.

I used a harbor freight expanding cargo bar, some wood pieces cut to length and a bike stand with a broom to hold everything in place. In hindsight, I would have spent another $15 on a 2nd cargo bar and used those and the bike stand. The cut wood was a pain.



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Discussion Starter #10
For the bed, I needed extra height over the normal horizontal supports to clear my specialized enduro and my girlfriends 6” travel diamond back trail bike. I also knew I was going to lose additional height when I build a bike drawer

So I used a 2x12 bolted to the side using factory tie down points and every hex hole with 8mm rob nuts. Then for extra support I added 2x4 legs at each corner. For the platform itself I used the Reese loading ramp design others have used here.

As you can see, I started fitting the bed even before insulation. The bed has gone in and out probably 10 times so far on my build. So the ramp design is nice because I can pretty easily take it out.


A few items to note that learned.
1: the bikes need 60” in length with the front wheels off. The bed is 54” wide and does not extend to the back corner. This leaves quite a bit of extra space I need to account for:
2: the added height also losses usable width so the full size mattress is a bit tight. I dealt with this by sinking the rear panels into the space a window would go, Directly onto the polyiso. While this works, it has left more exposed bits and I am having a hard time paneling the rest of the van. But more on that later.

Prior to building a bike drawer I made this “bike stretcher” out of scrap wood, my fork mounts, and some harbor freight rollers. This allowed me to size the board and figure out positions.




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Discussion Starter #12
You’re doing fine. You’re correct, you and many of us are constantly making changes in our build as our needs change. If it comes out poorly you can always redo something (other than that oversized hole in the roof or side ;) ).

I gotta ask tho - what is the hatchet for? I don’t know many van converters that find them useful for anything other than pounding tent stakes in and splitting wood. Is it a "finish" hatchet or just a "roughing in" one?
Just noticed the hatchet. HAHA!! I keep one in the van for splitting wood when camping. I imagine it was out because I set my mallet down and couldn't find it when I was tapping the rather tight tongue and groove after priming.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
After getting the subfloor sorted out, I moved on to the roof rack. I had bought a Covina rack from amazon but did not like how high it sat up and the rear bar interferes with the fan. I planned on a rooftop deck and rear door ladder so I needed to have that back access.

The roof rack went through a few iterations so these photos document a couple months time.

I used unistrut bolted directly to the vantech style mounts that came with my kit. Then used the crossbars from the kit for the rear of the rack, and 2 pieces of low profile unistrut for the solar.



I originally had unistrut clamps holding the cross bars but have since replaced it with 1/2” bolts straight through the load bars.


Then I mounted an old snowboard on another piece of unistrut for a wind deflector


Then finished it with decking and a roof box. I’m soon to replace the box with more decking. I don’t really need the box and it hit fuel economy by about 2mpg and made it tough in cross winds. I’ll get a soft waterproof bag and do some tie down points when I need to carry stuff up there.



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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
A few things to touch on from the roof post that is visible in the pictures but are worth mentioning.

One is the no drill ladder from eurocampers. I love this thing. Super easy to install and very stable. The other is my Kuat pivot hitch. Allows me to put a bike rack on the back and pivot slowing 90 degree door opening and access to the ladder.


The other thing is I wanted stickers but am very non-committal. I also had some stickers of sentimental value I was nervous about putting on the van in case I crashed it, sold it, or wanted rear windows. So I bought some blank magnetic sheet used for signs on fleet trucks and cut them to fit. I can easily remove the whole sheet of stickers or cut out ones I want to transfer to other metallic items. Plus, if I ever want to go all in on the whole “stealthy” thing. I can get some other made up with a fake business name and switch them out.




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Discussion Starter #15
As noted before, I use an portable ac unit for cooling when on shore power. I originally had the intake and exhaust hoses jammed in some foam blocks and sticking out the windows, but after receiving the metal window vents from eurocampers I was inspired.

I ended up purchasing a sheet of steel for $3 and using some leftover rivots from doing the gutters on my house and made a window insert for the hoses. I used the euro van inserts as a cut out template then cut 1.5” off the bottom, overlapped it slightly then riveted it. Then I painted them white, added screens and screwed the flanges that came with the ac unit.

When I need air, I put the inserts in, lean the driver seat all the way forward and attach the hoses. The AC stays strapped to the wall behind the drivers seat. If I ever move back to a colder environment, I’ll build a contained heater unit that can be switched out for the AC depending on season.





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Discussion Starter #18
How many BTUs is the AC? and does it do the job?
It's a 14,000 BTU Whynter and it does a more than adequate job. The ads say it handles a 500sqft room. By my rough math, the van is about 15 feet long by 6 feet wide so 90sqft
 
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