Van Life

June 2019 – Minneiska, MN Life on the Road

April 3, 2019

It is finished. Working on the van a total of 36 days with approximately 300 hours into creating our rolling home has been a completion of a lot of blood sweat and tears. We finished up the wiring, added a tiled backsplash (even though we don’t have running water), supplies are being loaded in. We did it with days to spare. It’s done.

Bedding is all bamboo filled and bamboo sheets, curtains and duvet cover is a soft cotton. Small terry cloth lined bags hang from the rods that hold in the two Banker’s Boxes in each front cubby hole. We’ve added baskets and bins. The bed is oh so comfortable and when we settle in we find ourselves enveloped in softness and comfort. We are home.

We have just a few loose ends to tie up here in AP but on Sunday morning we hit the road.

April 2, 2019

With the wiring done, the solar panels in place we focused on the interior ceiling. Prepping the high ceiling was done with cross boards riveted into place. This gave us a place to screw the tongue and groove panels to. This van is rounded, everywhere and we ended up doing quite a few custom cuts. At the end we filled the gap at the front with a piece of plywood, primed it and painted it.

We then tackled the awning. What a job. We searched for T-bolts, no luck so we ground down the bolts we had. If you can’t find’em grind’em and that is exactly what we did. Once the awning was installed Curtis focused on the Wifi Booster and the Cell Phone Booster. The roof top is now complete.

The cabinets went in next. The lowe cabinet holds the batteries for the solar as well as some other electronics. We bought unfinished cabinets. The lower cupboard was painted the same color as the walls. The uppers were all stained natural and varnished. We have some very nice storage space now.

April 1, 2019

No fooling, we have completed the van in 36 working days, approximately 300 hours. It feels good to be ready to roll. Now it’s time to get the bikes ready as well.

I will have this van build detail done by the time we roll on April 7, 2019. Stay tuned. Today I will show you our electrical system. Curtis spent a lot of time up on the rooftop. He installed racks, cross beams (which we had to go to a metal shop for), three solar panels and then all the interior electrical. We have LED lights set on a dimmer switch, we have 3 outlets that offer USB as well as 12v plugins, we have the ceiling fan and we also have a bike garage light in the rear, complete with it’s own switch. The solar will provide us with all the power we need.

March 31, 2019

It’s the end of March and our time in Aransas Pass is quickly coming to an end. The van conversion continues and the addition of a ceiling mount fan is a crucial one. The area was first marked, then pilot holes were drilled. Curtis then took to the roof and cut through with a jigsaw and there we had it a square hole, open to the heavens. Support boards were added on the inside and the fan sheath installed. Before long a complete fan was in place. Lots of goop, AKA Lap Sealent was used in addition to buytl tape to prevent an leakage. Wiring will have to wait until the installation of the solar panels and wiring. Inch by inch we are taking this shell of a van and making it into our home.

We are ending the month of March now and the van is nearing completion. Well, maybe I should disclaimer that and state nearing “complete enough to hit the road”.

We soundproofed the entire back of the van. We soundproofed walls, doors, ceiling and the wheel wells. This was quite the gooey task as the stick on soundproofing has a tar like backing.

We tackled the walls and what a job that was! First we had sealed cracks and crevices with spray foam. That stuff sticks and doesn’t wash off very well. I tried everything!! Nothing worked other than to pick it off and all to often that included skin in the game. OUCH!

Buying a rivet gun was one of the best decisions, it really made attaching items into the walls of the van a breeze. This way we can bolt in heavier items like the upcoming bed and cupboards.

After the foam we added sheet insulation which had to be custom cut to literally every surface we attached it to (using the spray foam). Again, that stuff really sticks sound! Once dried any extra blobs were cut away with a razor knife.

From there we decided to cover the insulation with a thin plywood. Nothing is straight, nothing has definite angles, nothing is the same from one side to the next and it all had to be custom cut and fit and trimmed and sanded. It was a huge task. To get it to stick we used a spray adhesive that bonds two things together. Our biggest challenge was how to hold tight big areas that had a nice bow to them. Problem solved and we used anchor boards with other brace boards and wedged them into place. The result was very sound. Primer and paint is all that is needed to finish it all off. Beautiful!

Once the walls were done and in place we could focus on the massive bed / storage unit that will separate the living space from the bike garage. Curtis designed the bed unit using 3/4″ furniture grade plywood and some impressive creativity. The bed platform holds a full size matress. Under the mattress in a round cut out that leads to the storage hold. In the front there are three cubby holes that each hold 2 banker’s boxes. In the back there are three more cubby holes, the middle will hold the tool chest. The other two will handle misc. items. It’s coming together!!

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The first task is putting in the floors. We first had to make a template for the insulation. For this we used cardboard and cut it to size. Then we sprayed down a layer of spray foam, that expanding type and we will use it as the base to glue down insulation boards. Then a day later we will hit it with another layer of the spray foam and thick plywood. This will be primed and painted before the floating linoleum floor is put down. We cut small PVC pipes to pay in some sections to prevent the plywood from crushing the insulation. This technique was used in what used to be the step in area on the side. We need all the floor space we can use.

And so it begins, the build out of the empty shell that will soon be our home and bike hauler. The van, a 2017 Ford Transit extended wheel base, high top is empty in the back and boy does it rattle and echo! The conversion is a “make it up as you go” with ideas and suggestions from people across the internet. Well, roll up your sleeves and let’s jump on in!

And so begins a new chapter for us; we purchased a 2017 Ford Transit Van on Feb. 4, 2019 and began the daily learning curves of building it out to be our home. It will also be our Bicycle and gear hauler.