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Love Van 2.0

3361 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  larry barello
Back in the early 80's I purchased a beat up 68 Dodge Sportsman window van, sans seats, bald tires, to move from the Bay Area to Seattle. After the move, I framed a simple platform in the back which became a bed and put all my supplies in storage boxes underneath. A few 6 gal plastic water jugs and a Coleman gas stove completed the kit. The van was dubbed the "love van" due to a psychedelic rainbow sticker on one window that spelled "LOVE". My new wife and I used that for six years until we had need for additional seats.

Fast forward three and a half decades and memories of those days compelled me to start on the 2.0 version. Call it a Covid-19 lock-down project. I had been seduced by those very attractive #vallife blogs and videos so I aimed pretty high (having money and tools helps...)

I'll cut to the chase:
My "introduction" post has a comprehensive list of features: introduction

Here is a link to a media folder with pictures of the build


I have attached a diary of my build. It is very incomplete and more of an overview rather than a detailed step-by-step.

I have pretty much run out of things to do with the conversion except sit and ponder how I would do it differently. I guess that must be a common affliction. :rolleyes:

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I have pretty much run out of things to do with the conversion except sit and ponder how I would do it differently. I guess that must be a common affliction. :rolleyes:
Yep, but as you use it, you will always find little things to do. And the occasional big thing, too ;)
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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Ha, ha, ha. Yeah, the last 10% will take 90% of the time. 4 months for the initial build, 4 years to finish the trim, if ever.

Hmm, maybe I should paint the metal to match so it isn't so obvious.
@larry barello

Exactly; 90% done and only 90% to finish ,,, just like a “Carpenter’s Home” the trim goes on just gefore you sell it 😁.
 

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2017 - 2500 159
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2,033 Posts
Ha, ha, ha. Yeah, the last 10% will take 90% of the time. 4 months for the initial build, 4 years to finish the trim, if ever.

Hmm, maybe I should paint the metal to match so it isn't so obvious.
This is soooo annoying! A small piece of finish takes as long as several wall panels. Plus there's more effort put into thought and quality due to more knowledge, higher stakes to get it right and look good with the rest, fatigue from all the prior work, less time remaining if on a deadline. I want to make stuff look nice, but on the other hand I don't have time to get too fancy and I just want to not be working anymore!

Awning question:
I'm thinking about awning options. I like moonshade cuz it's not sitting there permanently ugly on the outside, but I don't like it because it has to sit inside eating up valuable space. Looking into stuff like you have. I also have superstrut rails. But it looks like the Dometic 9500 is 6 3/8" tall, which doesn't fit between the top of the strut (where the solar panels sit) and the roof. Is it really 6 3/8"? Is there a way to space it away from the strut if I have solar panels overlapping the strut by a couple inches?
 

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2019 Promaster 3500 Silver high top 159"
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
...
Awning question:
I'm thinking about awning options. I like moonshade cuz it's not sitting there permanently ugly on the outside, but I don't like it because it has to sit inside eating up valuable space. Looking into stuff like you have. I also have superstrut rails. But it looks like the Dometic 9500 is 6 3/8" tall, which doesn't fit between the top of the strut (where the solar panels sit) and the roof. Is it really 6 3/8"? Is there a way to space it away from the strut if I have solar panels overlapping the strut by a couple inches?
The Dometic 9500 is intended to mount on a vertical/flat wall. I can work with flat vertical and horizontal surfaces much easier than random curves/angles. That plus the Dometic being self supporting made my decision to use that model. After mounting it was clear that the uni-strut wasn't going to be stiff enough to support the extended canopy, so I added the cross bars to transfer the torsional load across the roof.

You could certainly weld up tubing and end plates that spans your rails and cantilevers out a few inches beyond the solar panels. NB. 10' Dometic suitable for the 159" only the two outer mount points are structural. The middle one is just so the cassette doesn't sag.
76815
76816


It seems like a tough choice. Any of the sleeker cassette canopies are going to present a mounting challenge. The lower profile cassettes that might fit under your panels require some sort of angular mount and require specific extrusions for the Promaster that use the roof mount pins. They do look much nicer that the dometic.

I really wanted the self supporting design of the Dometic and took the risk of not knowing how I would mount it. A tarp + two tent poles and some hooks and guy ropes would do the same for about $1000 less. Something to consider.
 

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2019 Promaster 3500 Silver high top 159"
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I finally start tackling one of those 10% projects (there are four bare metal panels I need to trim out). The hard one was this window. There is nothing, really, to attach the panel to, plus some precision layout is needed. I am not a precision kind of guy, my engineering solutions tend to be "Duct tape if it moves and needs to stay still, WD40 if it stays still and need to move".

Well as illustrated by post What did you do to your Promaster today? I managed to make a trim piece for this window.
Motor vehicle Automotive design Automotive exterior Gas Trunk

There are no planar surfaces to mount to, so I had to hack in some lath (N.B. the above photo is old and doesn't show the cabinet using the upper rib surface). Then I created a planar surface with some 1/2" scrap on the upper, 1/8" scrap on the bottom and 8 little tabs that I glued onto the sides.

Hand Finger Wood Gas Nail

That is the surface I am trying to create.
Fixture Line Automotive exterior Paint Gas

I've used this glue in several places (it is almost empty!) and so far, 18 months, 19f to 100f and hundreds of miles of rough dirt roads not a single joint has failed. Fingers crossed these will hold as well.
Wood Computer monitor accessory Gas Machine Electronic device

Surface prepped and pilot holes drilled. Upper and lower firring strips were glued to the panel and I used 1" sheet metal screws to attach to the ribs. Wood screws for the sides.

Electrical wiring Van Vehicle door Cable Trunk

I always planned to have power by the swivel seat and realized that there was plenty of room under the window, so I drilled some holes, ran a wire to the distribution panel. Lower firring strip visible in this photo.

Window Cabinetry Drawer Vehicle Motor vehicle

Finished product. My galley extension, dinette (when positioned between the seats) and work desk is on display. The toilet cover is missing waiting for the paint to dry.
 

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2019 Promaster 3500 Silver high top 159"
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977 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
One of my winter projects was scanning in some 2-3k slides from my previous, previous, previous life (1980's) and I found a picture of the "Love Van"
Mountain Ecoregion Sky Vehicle Mode of transport

1987, Death Valley
Tire Plant community Vehicle Ecoregion Automotive tire

1987 Pike Creek trailhead at the Alvord Desert, OR.
 
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