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I figured I would start posting (non-electrical) items on your build thread here;

So upper cabinets for storage. If I did another van build I would consider incorporating the aluminum extrusions into the wall & ceiling panels (the aluminum extrusions that can accept bolting cabinets and other items onto it like the photos below;

Also, depending on your build “soft” upper duffel bags might be the thing for you?

Just an example, but here is a link for soft ceiling duffels;


1,334 Posts
Your Floor Plan


Design & Maximizing every cubic inch of interior space is my idea of the start of a good build (I failed in maximizing our build’s interior space - we all do, but some do better than others)

On my build, I made sure I had full driver seat travel (with a reasonable slope to the seat back). As the cab floor is higher, I think it is very possible to place the house battery behind the driver’s seat & have free travel & a sloped seat back that will not interfere with the driver seat function.

An example of the battery location idea I had for you;

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #43
Thanks for the input!!
I hadnt seen those soft bags before. Thats an interesting option... will ponder on that one for a bit!

We had our first long trip with the van this past weekend. Learned ALOT! Have a few plans in mind now for that cabinet area. :) Will update more on that later.

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #44
Coming Along!

It has been a bit since my last update, but things are moving along nicely!

To start with, I did finally get a trim piece on the flooring at the side door entrance. That looks much better now. (You might see in the photos below)

Electrical wise, I figured out what do to there.. finally. Ended up with the Goal Zero Yeti 400 AGM. I will be wiring it into the van via the upfitters package in the passenger B pillar. Off the 6mm 12v plugs, I will wire in a couple fuse blocks which will power the fan, charging ports and misc low draw items.

The big step over the last couple of weeks was the framing for the walls and the insulation that followed!

To do the framing we decided to go with the basic furring strip found at Home Depot.
For a while I was thinking about just screwing these strips to the interior shell, but I really wasn't liking that the more I thought about it. So after some studying I figured out how I could make the strips and secure them using the rivet nuts.
Using the rivet nuts I was able to bolt all of the studs in place using stainless hardware and securing via loctite! Woot.

To keep the future wall panels flush I notched each one of the mounting points to allow clearance for the bolt head.

All of the hardware is 1/4-20. To spread the load out on that strip, I used 1" and 1.25" fender washers.


To make the notches I used a coping saw and a chisel. Then filed the wood smooth after the chisel work. It was a process but it was **** near therapeutic once I had a method down.

I tried installing the rivet nuts with a couple pieces of hardware and wrenches the first go around.. after breaking a bolt and having to drill out a failed nut.. I found this rivet nut tool on Amazon for 40 bucks. This tool works like a dream! NoteL for the rivet nuts, I drilled the hole out, filed it to size, then painted the hole with touch up paint before installing the nut. Doing my best to remove possibilities for rust in the future.


First wall of studs in place. (and painted) Down at the bottom I had bolted them directly to the those base parts. Then when I did a test fit, I found that the paneling wouldnt sit flush at the bottom. (Joys of van building.. nothing is a constant radius or straight edge) I fixed this by putting a spacer behind them. Turns out it was off exactly the thickness of 1 furring strip. Cool.


The area of the fender took a bit more work and planning. The horizontal piece was eventually linked to the long vertical strips via some 10" long strips and some screws. I wasnt sure if that would work, but once they were anchored in.. that entire wall is now SOLID.


76 Posts
Discussion Starter #45
Once the strips were in place... I caught a wild hair based on the last mini trip I had in the van which involved snow camping.
During my over night, I started notice just how much of the cold I feeling off the metal and realize how cold our heads and feet will will when sleeping sideways. Even when the paneling is installed, I figured we would be feeling that cold air through the thin paneling. So I decided to use a little spray foam. Eek.

I didnt fill ever nook and cranny. Just went around the foam board I had installed and in those short ribs. I didnt fill the main pillars and channels as that is where I plan to run wire in the coming weeks.

Oh also forgot to mention.. to prevent squeaks, I decided to put some thin foam between the wood and the metal. You can kind of see it in the photo below. (after 1200 miles on the road this weekend.. I didnt hear a peep out of those studs. So I guess it works)



Then after the foam, I got to thinking more.. These narrow openings would be really easy to fill with pieces of reflectix. Reflectix needs a air gap to function properly.. If I secure the reflectix to the horizontal channels, there will be a large airgap between the reflectix and the foam board.. should work.. There will be a small gap between the reflectix and the paneling due to the stud thickness. One thing led to another.. and...



During my camping that weekend I noticed how cold those fender wells were getting.. So I went ahead and wrapped those, too. No airgap.. but it was significantly better than they were.

Now, I am fully aware that this wasnt the cheapest, nor the most environmentally friendly way to do this insulation but this entire van build has been pretty fluid. I have one plan but as the build goes on, something changes and a opportunity presents itself. I weigh the pro's and cons.. and make a decision. This route just seemed to fall into place.. so I went with it. And so far it seems to really make a difference. More an that in another post!

Next steps, I need to insulate the doors, Sliding and rear. I havent touched those yet. I plan to pull the black panels off and put in some foam board on the inside of the body and the panel itself. I still have some spray foam left over.. so I might apply some around the foam board that is adhered to the inside of the body. We shall see.

The thing I like about this, so far, is that I still have air flow behind the walls via the pillars and the horizontal beams. I have become a bit paranoid on the moisture this van collects due to our activities with it. I have even been considering hooking up some small PC fans in the corners of the finished walls to help pull air through. Waste? Maybe.. would it work? Dunno yet. Still thinking on it.

Next steps are:
Wire in the Goal Zero and accessory wires.
Install the MaxxAir
Cut/Paint/Install Wall and ceiling panels.
(Need to think about the cabinet mounting before I complete the walls)


76 Posts
Discussion Starter #48
Mini Trip Report

Last week my wife was off due to "mid-winter break" at school. So I took Thursday and Friday off so we could go on a bit of a road trip.
We both have the ICON pass, so we decided to drive up to Banff and ski the Big 3.

We left Wednesday night so we could make our way into Canada and see the passes between Hope and Banff in the day light.
We spent the first night in Hope BC off some side street behind a grocery store. The spot was recommended on iOverlander App. Quiet spot. No issues. Made breakfast in the van in the morning and headed East.


Views weren't terrible...

We had smooth sailing all the way to Golden.. then the road was shut down due to an accident. We killed some time by having a long dinner. When they announced the road was open, we jumped in the van and headed out. We made it half a mile up the highway and the road was shut down again for vehicle removal. We sat on the highway for 2.5 hours.
Then we got to make our way to Lake Louise in the dark with some very committed truck drivers. Those drivers DO NOT MESS AROUND! I have never been scared while driving a vehicle until that night. Going up hill, running 60mph+, on roads covered in sand and salt. Snowbanks on either side which narrowed the road a great deal. At times the road was 2 lanes, sometimes 3, occasionally 4.
I would pass a semi while having another semi right on my ass. Once around the slow truck I would catch another truck in the right lane and duck in behind it. The truck following me would pass all of us with another truck coming head on. Was there room for 3 trucks wide? Dunno.. All while at speed and cant see **** due to the salt and sand dust everywhere. It was some madmax madness up there. I was glad to be off the road that night.

That night the temps dipped down to -1F. We managed to stay warm enough but both admitted we were cold and it could have been better. We were using our bags that were rated to 10F plus a down comforter and blankets. Sleeping on a air mattress that was elevated off the floor about 6-8".

We skied lake louise and then made our way to Banff for the night. We got a room for the next night. A hot shower and warm bed sounded like a good plan.

Skied Norquay the next morning and when the weather started rolling in, we made our way south. I didnt want to be on those passes in the snow with those same truck drivers.


Not too bad heading out of Banff. Love my snow tires.


"Move that rock.. a road needs to go right here!"

We spent the last night outside of Kimberly BC. (Much warmer) Then headed into the states and back home.

Crossing i90 was a blast with some severe head winds. It was all I could do to keep the van moving forward it seemed. Tumble weeds everywhere.

Then we made it to Snoqualmie Pass.. More snow.

Made it home after driving ~1200 miles. I had been getting right at 15mpg for the trip until the head winds on 90.. That put me down in the low 13's.

Learned alot about our set up and made some plans for the rest of the build out.

I am glad that we have the opportunity to use the van while we are building it. It is really helping us plan the build as we go!

Premium Member
8,576 Posts
Air mattresses seem to suck the heat from below. Once we got onto our 4+” IKEA foam matress we have never been cold. We have a 10º Kelty bag we have opened and use for a cover and sleep in a sheet sack we sewed up so we don’t have to make up the bed each day and tuck in the sides etc. Our Espar makes all that unnecessary but we seldom use it all night if it is >32º F as we are nice and warm. I can reach the furnace control when I am about 20 minutes from getting up so the van is warmed as I brew the coffee.
Thanks for the trip report and the beautiful van pictures!

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #50
Yea, I am looking forward to getting away from that air mattress, ASAP. It is always cold. In an attempt to combat that, I put a moving blanket down on the floor, then put a 9 cement blocks down. (These were laying around the house and I have been using them to add weight to the back of the van while it is empty. Drives like crap with no weight back there) Those blocks are like 8" thick. I then put a piece of the 5mm paneling on the blocks and then covered the wood with another moving blanket. This gave us a bit of a air gap between the floor and the mattress. While it was better than putting the thing directly on the floor.. it was still cold.

If you dont mind me asking, how much was the IKEA mattress? Where you able to cut yours up to make smaller cushions?

Premium Member
8,576 Posts
If you dont mind me asking, how much was the IKEA mattress? Where you able to cut yours up to make smaller cushions?
The Mattress was called BEDDINGE LÖVÅS and about $80 IIRC. It came in two pieces for a futon sort of bed/couch. I needed three pieces so I cut one of the foam pieces in two lengthwise, divided the cover and used an extra included flap to finish the three. I don’t see that currently so try this: LYCKSELE LÖVÅS Mattress - IKEA

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #54

Finally! The moon and stars aligned! The materials were all here, mother nature provided goods on Saturday and a clear window on Sunday. Time to put the fan in!

I didnt get many photos of the start of the process. AKA cutting the giant hole in the roof.. because I was pretty dang terrified. Took a couple of Rainier's just to get the nerves level enough to put the saw on the roof. #cuttingoil

There are tons of videos and articles on how to install the fan. But here is the short list on how I installed mine.

Purchased the adapter plate on ebay. (3D printed frame)
Lined up the fan mount to the adapter plate and put pilot holes in the adapter plate.
Put the plate on the roof, lined up, put in two screws and pilot holes in the roof.
Corner holes.
Jig saw with metal blade. Big Hole
File the edges
Paint the exposed metal
Scotch bright the top of the roof where the adapter sits
3m window weld on the underside of the adapter plate
Butyl Tape on the underside of the fan mount
Place adapter plate down in place
Place fan mount on top of adapter plate.
Start 2 screws from the top into the body
Put wooden frame in place from inside
Run the first two screws down, engaging the wooden frame
Insert remaining screws
3M 5200 fast cure all around the base and on top of screws
Put the fan on.


I have seen videos where people just screw into the metal roof. That seems like it might be good enough. But I wanted something to anchor the ceiling panels to. Plus it made me feel a bit more warm and fuzzy with longer screws going through the roof and into the wood.

The fan was completed before nightfall and the rains came in. I was able to put a tarp over the back half of the van so that the 5200 could cure and not be soaking wet. I will pull the tarp off Wednesday night. (72 hours)

Next Steps
Thursday morning I am driving to Ferndale Wa to pick up the bike rack for the van. Woot woot (Then driving to Portland for work. Eek)
Tomorrow we are starting the wall templates. Going to use some of the painters paper to make the templates like we did the floor.
The last of my electrical stuff should arrive by the end of this week. Hope to get cracking on the electrical running this weekend. But more snow might be in the forecast.. sooo... we shall see.

Stoked to have this "last" big hurtle complete on the van build!

"Keep er' movin"

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #55

What good is weekend rig with out a bike rack? In our world.. none really.

Since our van is a low top, there will be no room for multiple bikes inside. In the future, I'd like to have the ability to keep one inside.. but for the most part, the bikes will have to stay outside.

We will be carrying several bikes at one time, so vertical rack makes more since when considering the overall length of the van. Luckily there is a local shop here that makes a very nice hanging rack. You can get them in 4, 5, and 6 bike width.. I opted for the 5.

Mounting the rack into the OEM hitch didnt allow for the back doors to open at all hardly. The door hit the large pivot bearing.
So I pickup the Kuat HiLo. This moves the rack backwards 7" or 10" and can raise or lower the rack 2".
The rack itself has lots of adjustment too. The bike hanger can be raised and lowered.

After some serious time spent moving the rack around in different positions.. I opted for this set up.



This gets me a good bit of clearance in the back and allows me to open the rear doors about 60 degrees when the rack is laid back.

However, if Im finding that i need the doors open.. I can flip the HiLo and the doors will open all the way.. I just lose a good bit of rear clearance.




Here is the view from the back.

I really like this rack as it has so much adjustment and it doesnt contact the bike anywhere aside from the tires.

If anyone is interested in these racks..

35 Posts
I am researching adding Freedman GO seats to either a 118 or 136. A friend went with Abiltrax system and GO seats that she bought new (super pricey) but that I'm looking for on EBay or CL. Has anyone used the Abilitrax system? Friend paid a little over 3k ? labor included.

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #58
Electrical and Such
Well it has been a bit since I posted, but not for a lack of work done to the van!

After I got that rack sorted out, I jumped on the electrical and wiring. To keep things simple I decided to go with a Goal Zero 400, AGM.

To charge the Goal Zero, I wired in a hard line to the upfitters package. I opted to wire into the switched power, so I can decide when I want the chassis to charge the house battery.


While I was at it, I ran a lead from the house battery to the back of the van and a lead from the house battery to the front of the van. These can be used to charge the Goal Zero off the AC power or Solar, too. Currently, I use the lead in the back to plug the house battery into AC at my home. Run a extension chord out the garage door.

For power out put, I wired in a fuse block to the 6mm plug output on the goal zero. From there, I the two LED strips on their own fuse. I also wired in a USB charging hub, and two more leads running to each fender.. just for future stuff.

Lastly, while I was in the upfitters area, I hooked up the wires for rear speakers! Woot!

For wire runs.. All the wires are coming from the upfitters.. up the B pillar, over the slider door, and across the van via the D? pillar, then down to the battery box. That D pillar contains all the wires that cross the van. Very handy that one.




Sorry, no electrical grid porn here. Eventually, I will have the battery box completed. It will secure the Goal Zero and provide a spot for the fuse panel to mounted.. but that is about it. I opted to keep it as simple as possible with this deal.

(Oh and everything is still working.. So thats a plus)

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #59
With the electrical done.. it was time to move on to the walls.

For the wall panels we opted to use the same 1/4" stuff we used on the floors. However, we painted these white instead of staining and poly.
This took a bit of time, trial and error, we we cut and notched each board to fit.

The walls are screwed to the studs and the van interior via 1/2" or 1.25" screws.

The back side of the walls were painted with mildew preventative, and the outside of walls were painted with a nice interior paint. Nothing too fancy. We opted to use a larger head screw so that it wouldnt sink through the plywood as easily. In practice this works, but the wife isnt too thrilled about the silver screw heads on the white paint... ehh. I could care less.




Yay! Walls! Starting to feel like we are making progress!

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #60
With the walls up, we decided to keep the momentum going and started on the ceiling.

The ceiling is made of the 1/4" plywood and is stained "to match the floor" . The panels are held up using the same screws as the walls.

We painted the underside with the mildew preventative, the stained the inward facing side with "Special Walnut" and applied two coats of poly. The goal was for the ceiling to match the floor. As you can see.. that is the not the case at all. Ooops. We will likely just put some vinyl flooring down or something at the end anyway.. so not the end of the world.

However, we both agree that the ceiling color and finish turned out far better than the floor.

Not pictured is how I secured the panels to the front and back of the roof. For the back, I cut a furring strip to sit in front of those tabs that come from seaming the roof to the rear door section. I was able to anchor the ends of the strips to those tabs. Then with the strip "notched" it was able to be glued to the roof and take the curved shape of it. Worked like a charm.
For the front, I was able to wedge a furring strip into the open corner braces just behind the headliner.
These two strips allowed me to secure the front and back ends of the ceiling panels.

Now, I realize the gaps on the edges leading to the walls are all over the place.. Joys of the low roof design. For now it will have to do. Once we have the rest of the van furniture completed, we will move to finishing out the walls/ceiling gaps. Its likely that we will have some shelves or something in the corners anyway... maybe.



Oh almost forgot, if you look at the D pillar going across the van, you will see those D ring anchors.. I applied some rivet nuts into that D pillar and mounted those D rings up on the ceiling. Not pictured, but I did the same in the back on the overhang above the doors. This way we can run rope/line to all 4 for hanging privacy curtains across the mid and back.. and along the sides, we can hang coats, clothes to dry/air out as needed. I get a pic of this later once its done.
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