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Discussion Starter #61 (Edited)
Finishing: Ceiling and Floor

My conversion is in final stages and I've got some time to post latest updates about final touches.

The ceiling is finished with water proof vinyl material which I bought at the Habitat for Humanity store. I do not know what it is - there were no label. It looks like wallpaper, but it is vinyl, 56" wide, very sturdy and has slight texture that resembles grey wood grain. I did not want any sims so I decided to cut one piece to cover all ceiling. It was not easy, as the form of open ceiling is quite complicated.


I glued it using the Roberts 6700 carpet glue from the HD. This glue is not bad to work with - becomes sticky quite fast, but stays soft for a long time, so there is no rush and it is possible to fix mistakes: remove and reattach better. However it was harder than I expected due to the large size of the piece. First, I pinned it roughly with push pins to guaranty the correct position. Then, keeping the rear half pinned, I applied the glue to the front 1/3 and pressed the vinyl tightly pushing air from the center to sides, and then piece by piece, went to the rear. It was a great relief, coming back next morning, to see how nice the ceiling looked: smooth surface, not a single wrinkle, covering all multiple holes, sims and imperfections in the plywood.
















The plywood sub-floor was covered with vinyl plank. Two boxes were enough to cover all open floor surface and step transition to the elevated cabin floor. The top parts of the transition at the entrance and under the table I made as opening doors, creating two boxes that could be used for shoes or tools





















 

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Discussion Starter #63 (Edited)
Finishing: Walls and Windows

The goals for finishing walls and windows were: 1) to cover all metal surfaces with the liner to improve insulation, eliminate possible condensation and that "cold touch" felling in winter 2) to achieve as much as possible the professional look with smooth transitions all around without any visible fasteners.


Selecting a proper liner took some time. I tried several: couple of vinyl liners and several fabric car liners from Joan Fabric and some online stores where I could get the samples before buying. None of those tried was good for me mostly because of being too thin and not covering well the wall imperfections, or difficult to bend or not being able to make sims not so visible (abundance of rounded metal surfaces around the windows made it impossible to glue one piece of liner without sims).


Eventually, I decided to use a thin carpet, following advise of keeponvaning. I found acceptable color in Home depot: Foss Ribbed Taupe 6 ft. x 8 ft. Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug for $19.81.



This is the thinnest carpet I could find, and it is slightly stretchable to work on some rounded surfaces. Main benefits: hides very well the underlying surface imperfections and transitions from van body elements to plywood; makes sims almost unnoticeable. Unfortunately, one rug was just a little bit not enough to cover everything and I had to buy the second, of which very little was used.


Before applying the liner, significant work was needed to streamline various visible van structural elements and create smooth transitions around windows. This was done with the remaining pieces of rigid foam that was used for insulation. It was cut to size, roughly trimmed, glued with Sikaflex, voids filled with compound and finally sanded to make smooth surface and transitions.


Images below show examples of this work.


Driver side front window:​







Driver side rear window:









Passenger side rear window (in the kitchen and behind the fridge):






The next step was to apply the liner. For the rear wheels boxes I used the same vinyl cover as for the ceiling and bathroom:








All other surfaces (except in the kitchen) were covered with the carpet liner. Applying carpet to the straight walls was simple. However, gluing it around the windows happened to be quite time consuming: first take measurement of the complicated form, cut it carefully, apply the glue and the carpet piece, make cuts on the round parts (where carpet does not stretch) and, finally, fill the voids with small pieces of carpet cut to the place:





Below are images of the final results.


Rear doors








Sliding door





Front driver side window






Rear driver side window







Rear passenger side window








For the kitchen area, having carpet was not practical. We chose​
Peel and Stick Stainless Steel Tiles from Amazon ($29 for 5 sheets). It was quite a task to size, cut and apply this tile to all transitions and round surfaces around the window. I managed to cut these small pieces of tile with the tiny Dremel cutting disc.








 

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... your build looks really tight with the carpet fitting... what is the 'compound' you used, and does it fully harden or stay pliable in time? tx ~ S
 

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Discussion Starter #65
The pieces of rigid foam are glued with sicaflex. There was not much compound used - just to fill some gaps where i made mistakes in cutting the foam and on round transitions. For that I used the leftovers of sicaflex and some painters cualk that stays little bit flexible. There was no need to make it perfect, since the carpet perfectly covers all imperfections.
 

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Discussion Starter #67 (Edited)
Finishing: Transformable Bed

The bed is transformable in the following sense:
The bed is transformable in the following sense:
- it can be set up at three different heights: lower, middle, upper
- in the lower position the bed can be easily transformed into the front or rear facing bench.


The bed design consists of movable bed platform, transformable base and mattress.

The movable platform is described earlier in the section "Bed Platform".

The mattress is a Linespa two layer foam mattress, full size.

The transformable bed base is made of two sheets of 1/2" plywood 72"x26" connected together by a long piano hinge so that it can lay flat or bent in the middle like a book. On both long sides, the base is reinforced by 1 1/4" steel angle to provide rigidity for the back in the bench position (front and rear facing). The plywood base slides freely on top of the steel platform and folds in both directions to make a front or rear bench seat. In the front seat position, the rear angle can be rigidly attached to the rear door by a steel hook and the front angle attached to the bed platform to prevent the bed base from flattening down when the van moves. Some details of the construction can be seen on the images.

At the upper position, the distance between the floor and bed is 55" and the van can be used to haul a relatively large cargo.










At the middle position, it serves only as a bed. The distance between the floor and the bed is 34", which creates a large size garage for bikes and other bulky equipment that maybe needed in a trip.












At the lower position, the distance between the floor and the frame is only 17", which still makes a good size storage compartment, so it can serve as a bed for trips not requiring significant volume of baggage. Additionally, it can be transformed into a front or rear facing bank seat. As the front facing seat, it can accommodate up to four person (three comfortably). As the rear facing seat it allows comfortably relax and enjoy the view when the rear doors is opened.

The bed in lower position:






The bed as the front facing seat:

















The bed as the rear facing seat:



 

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Well now it looks you need a deck that attaches to the trailer hitch and some type of awning for the back porch.
 

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Discussion Starter #71
Yep. You are quite right - already thinking about a wheeled backyard with palm trees and humming birds buzzing around.


AC ventilation system is almost done. Will post soon. Was not easy to make.
 

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Discussion Starter #72 (Edited)
AC Unit Ventilation System

The van has a room window 5000 btu AC unit, installed inside the sealed compartment in the rear cabinet. It requires ventilation - fresh air goes in through the sides and hot air exits out through the rear. To make this possible I had to build the conduit connecting the AC compartment with the outside of the van through the rear door. The conduit has three channels: left and right for air in, and central for air out. It also has two parts: the van part attached to the cabinet, and the door part inside the door. Since the door opens, these two parts should be connected via the rubber seal. The whole construction has to be moisture resistant, since some amount of water can get from AC exhaust and from outside.

It happened that designing and fabricating this system was significantly more complicated than I originally thought and took at least triple the time that I planned for it. The main difficulty was that all pieces of this conduit have different splicing angles at the connections, which was not possible to imagine or calculate. So I used the cardboard models. However, the cardboard pieces being thin, did not model well the 3/4" thick plastic trim panel that I used for this construction. This resulted in inevitable mistakes and a lot of tweaking the roughly cut pieces until achieving reasonably good fit.

The images and description below show the fabrication process and details of design.

First, I made as large as possible cutout window in the door. The internal door panel already has a cutout, however it is small. So I made it larger by cutting out the top. Then, I cut out accordingly the outside panel and filled inside of the door with rigid foam insulation pieces glued to the sheet metal of the door. Thus I created a firm insulated window box in the top of the door. The bottom wall of the window is sloped outside to let the occasional water escape out.








To make the conduit, I cut the pieces of the plastic trim board from Home Depot, and screwed them with pocket screws to the rear wall of the cabinet. The vertical walls are tweaked to match the profile of the door and the horizontal part has significant slope to connect the bottom of the AC box (higher) with the bottom of the door cutout (lower).




The next step was to make the dividers to separate the conduit into three separate channels.

I started from shopping for the outside grille. I could not find one piece of a needed size, so bought two white ventilation grilles from Lowe's and joined them together to have one 10x30 piece. I marked on the door the position of two side dividers of the grille, and installed two dividers in the door cutout to match those of the grille.







Then I started to make the conduit dividers, which happened to be the most painful part. These two pieces connect the sides of the AC frame with the dividers in the door and have to be fitted relatively air tight. The pieces have the irregular form and every edge has individual slope that has to be matched with the edge of the existing surface they attach to, especially at the top, which has quite complicated form and is hidden from outside view. A lot of trial-error tweaking and yet couple mistakes have been made to be corrected later with small pieces cut to the place and glued in.​







The last step was to attach the seal, for which I used the Frost King EPDM ribbed profile Weatherseal from Home Depot









The final look of the door with the grille is below. The bottom edge of the grille has a spacing between the grille and the door grace to rib there, thus letting water to escape. The appearance of the grille is not perfect because I had to manually reverse the direction of each louver from inside to outside and was not able to achieve uniform spacing.

 

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Discussion Starter #75 (Edited)
Passive Ventilation

Almost all van conversions include some kind of a roof fan for ventilation.. However, the effectiveness of such a fan is sometimes quite low, since for the good ventilation the air pushed out of van by the fan should be replaced with the same amount of fresh air from outside. Thus there is a need for openings, preferably at different locations to have nice air flow through the van. Such openings, thoughtfully positioned also may provide for the passive ventilation even when fan is off, but is opened.

Typically, screened opening windows serve this purpose. In my van I have only one window that opens and have a screen - rear driver side that has two openings: in bathroom and bedroom. Thus there is essentially no air flow in the front and middle of the van (with the fan off or on), which makes the van interior hotter than it could be.

To correct the problem, I decided to make additional openings. For the location I chose the bottom of the footstep wells by the front doors. The benefits of such location are:
1. The openings at the bottom suck the coolest air around, which is typically under the van;
2. The openings at the very front creates the best ventilation flow through the whole van;
3. It is relatively easy to do holes there without making any changes to the existing layout, and not having to drill through multiple floor layers.
4. No obstacles at the van bottom like fuel tank, exhaust pipe, frame elements, etc.

Pictures and description below show the design and fabrication the those vents.

First, I removed the plastic casing from the footstep wells and calculated the possible position and size of the openings. Based on the available space and what can be found in stores, I chose the 4" round holes paired with the 4" drier exhaust plastic hood vent cap from Lowe's ($8.98), of which I used only plastic part without connecting pipe.


Then I cut the round holes in the metal floor and screwed the plastic hood to the floor underneath it (some cutting of the hood base was needed to fit the tight space under the floor)





Since the footstep well space was opened, I decided to insulate it putting 1/2 inch insulation around.
I also glued the mosquito screen to the cap grille.






Then I traced the hole position to the plastic casing and cut a hole there. However, I did not cut it completely. The part of the hole adjacent to the vertical wall I did not touch. This black plastic is relatively flexible, so the cut piece can flex, and serve as a cap (by adding little locks on the floor and the wall) that can be kept opened:



or closed:



This feature is important not only for the colder time of the year when the opening is not needed, but also to keep noise away when driving, because with open cap it is really loud. I keep the caps open all the time when not driving, and with opened MaxxAire fan it makes the air in the van little bit cooler and fresher.

After finishing the job, and testing it, I realized that if I opted for the self made hood instead of buying it, I probably could make the ventilation even better by making a larger rectangular 4x8" opening. But it's too late now.
 

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That's an interesting area for the vent, I like it! You've also identified an area for further insulation which I think may help with temperature and noise control. Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #78
Hello Phil,


Your question about AC is quite timely (how did you figure out that I've got a problem with AC?). It runs, it makes a lot of air flow, but it does not make the cold.



Here is the story. I bought the smallest AC I could find, and that was used, in excellent condition. I tested it - worked fine. After installing (it was last Summer, at the beginning of the conversion) I tested it again and it worked fine. Then I did the wiring, receptacles, and then all other conversion work. However, I accidentally forgot to do final connection for AC. Since I could not use it anyway, I did not bother about it and I never turned it on until I made the ventilation conduit. When I was done with it, I did the connection, ran it and this is what happened: fan runs, compressor starts and runs, all air flows are correctly directed but no cold air is produced.


At this moment I have no idea what could happen with this AC. Typically, they are quite reliable units, my oldest worked fine for 20 years. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


The worst thing is (now I see this was a major design flaw) that the AC compartment is made quite tight for this particular model. So now my optinos are either to repair it (how?) or to find exactly the same. Considering they are not produced any more, that will be very hard.
 

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Having someone look at it cost as much as a new one.

No expert, but compressor pumps refrigerant to the thermal expansion valve and that meters it out to the evaporator.

I believe if the thermal expansion valve fails you get no refrigerant in the evaporator so no cooling.

I don't think it's an electrical issue because everything is running.

My newish 12k unit has just done the same thing.
 
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