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L4H3 no skills van conversion - build log

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Hi all,

I was given a warm welcome at the introduction section, and thought I might make a build log for my Fiat Ducato L4H3 conversion. I know now, that, these are not identical to the American "Promaster" as I first thought, but merely based on the same chassis. My cars knowledge is very limited ;)

I said "no skills" because I basically have none. I am a software engineer, and if you know anyone in software development, you'll know they have zero practical skills :D So I have started this project to learn a lot, and hopefully complete my dream van too. So crossing fingers :)

As for the van, it's an extra tall H3 model, as I am 6'4, and thats the only version I'll be able to stand up in. So tall one it is.

The plan is to make a van that I can use during winter and also live in for for extended periods of time. I don't have any floor plan, or anything else for that matter, planned out. What I do know, is that I will have a fixed bed with a big garage. I need to place all my sports gear, and its quite a lot, so need lots of storage in the back. I guess it also makes construction a little easier. I'll also design it around 1-2 people, not more. It will mostly be used by myself alone, so not going to design a common area with room for 4 people.

I'm also working full-time, so don't expect updates that often. I have to make use of what spare time and weekends that I have. But It will be nice to share some updates once in a while, and maybe someone will have some pointers when I'm stuck along the way :)

So first two days, what I've managed so far:
  • Got the side walls down, and cleaned the interior.
  • Fixed some butyl for sound deadening some of the walls (although not completely finished yet).
  • Got a massive headache from all the cleaning detergents (note to self, more ventilation next time).
  • My back feels 80yrs old.

Window Building Engineering Door Electric blue
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Insulation took me a long time and I didn't do anywhere near the level of some people. I figure save a bit of headache and live a few degrees colder or burn a tiny bit more propane.
I bought a full set of window covers, black on one side, foil on the other. I turn them around as needed and find they REALLY help a TON holding heat in or out.
I used denim insulation in some cavities - I hear denim can mold, but I just don't see much water getting in there. Then again I'm on the west coast and southwest, and never experienced fabric molding. Those big lower C pillar cavities are open under cabinets and I can pull the insulation out easy if there's ever a problem.
The rest of the thermal bridges don't have such a huge air gap. I got a few rolls of 1/2x4 expansion joint foam and glued it over all the roof ribs and pillars as a thermal break and possibly a bit of insulation.

I didn't do the best nor the worst insulation job, but it stays warm for hours after it's cold out and we don't even use the heat much unless it's gonna be low 40s or colder. Just a bit in the evening and morning. For reference I grew up in the desert and hate cold.

The propex barely has to work to keep the van toasty all night in the 30s and 40s. Haven't tried 20s yet since finishing insulation. It did run a lot when we camped in the 20s and the windows and thermal bridges weren't covered yet, but so far I feel like the windows are the big one. More heat loss than a few exposed metal ribs. And the metal is mostly covered by other stuff even when not insulated.

Oh and also, in structural engineering we specify stainless or galvanized fasteners at all PT lumber.
Stainless fasteners should not be used to fasten to non-stainless metal, as it will cause the other metal to corrode when exposed to moisture.
 

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Interesting. what types of fasteners are you suggesting I should use for PT wood then? I might just get regular wood for the rest of the van to avoid such headaches. Did not think of that.
This is one of those things I haven't really researched. I guess the treatment can cause corrosion.
Do contractors always use galvanized nails at interior shear walls where the plywood is nailed to the PT sill plate? I doubt they switch out their nail guns for the bottom of the wall. Personally I guess I'd grab a bag/box of HDG (hot dipped galvanized) screws since that's easy enough.

Here is what Simpson says about fasteners in dry applications:

"The mudsill is a location that is considered dry in comparison to a deck, for example. For wood that is installed and remains dry, the corrosion potential will be comparatively low. Regarding code issues, section R317.3.1 of the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) addresses fasteners for pressure-, preservative-, and fire-retardant-treated wood; Bolts of ½" and greater do not need to be hot-dip galvanized steel, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper."​
I haven't read much of the IRC, but it looks like they consider dry applications to have low enough corrosion for 1/2" fasteners.
 
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