Mod: Cabin Curtain

Creation Of A Cabin Curtain.

Isolating the cabin prevents the heat accumulating through the large windshield into the living area of the RV. It also makes the A/C more efficient.

Another reason to install cab curtains, is to improve privacy especially at night. That is certainly one of the requirements for a stealthy van.

The type of fabric best suited for this purpose, is a black-out material. An additional inside lining, that is color-coordinated with the interior of the van will improve on that.

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Approximate Duration For This Project:
5 hrs (with sewing machine).
10 hrs (hand sewn).


What You’ll Learn:

  • How to install the curtain track.
  • How to layout curtain pleats.
  • How to replace the curtain hem.
  • How to create a tie-down.

What You’ll Use:

  • Hack saw.
  • Electric drill.
  • Drill bit.
  • Phillips screw driver.
  • Scissors.
  • Pins, needle & thread.
  • Steam iron.
  • Optional:
    • Sewing machine.
    • Extension cord.

What You’ll Need:

  • Curtain track: ~40” long (~1m) .
  • Curtains (2):
    • Total width 95”/110“ (241/280cm) .
    • Length ~68“ (173cm)
  • Drapery hooks.
  • Velcro: 20“L x 1“W. (50cm L x 2.5cm W)
  • Stainless Steel screws.
  • Small bolts & nuts.
  • Painter’s tape.

Considerations

The curtains have to be sized with the passenger swivel seat in mind. That means, that they have to be long and wide enough to be draped over a turned-around seat and still keep the living area fully blacked-out.

I use two separate curtains to enable passage from and to the cabin and use Velcro to unify them and close the gaps at the walls.

Preferably, the cab curtain should created and installed later during the van conversion, but since I will be using the van on short trips early on, I decided to put them in right now and benefit from day one. As the bed has not been created yet and as its casing will cover part of the cabin, I will have to adjust the curtains (width) on a temporary basis.

An extra liner will be added to the curtain at a later date, to complement the interior design, as is the valance as part of the ceiling installation.

Tie-down is made from the curtain remnants and is a 6″ x 20″ (15cm x 50cm) piece of fabric.

A Murphy bed will be placed immediately behind the driver’s seat, with a two inch space in between, which holds the curtains when they’re not in use.

The entire project cost was $42.23 and it added 3.3lbs (1485gr) to the overall weight of the vehicle.

  • Track $15.95
  • Curtains $21.02
  • Drapery Hooks $2.10
  • Velcro $3.16

The Project

Gather all the tools and materials before proceeding. Regularly fit the track and the curtains, to avoid costly mistakes.

Curtain Track

  • The curtains and future valance will cover and hide the edge, where cabin ceiling meets the living area.
  • The track is secured against the metal cross bow brace, in between both black foam hubs (that contain the side curtain airbag mechanisms).
  • Install the track at a 10 degree angle to compensate for the angle of the cross bow brace.
  • To save on weight, remove any unnecessary parts from the track.
  • Adjust the length and angle of the track.
  • Stick some painter’s tape on the cross bow brace, where both ends of the track touch the metal. Hold the track in place and use a pencil to mark the location of the screw holes.
  • Drill and fit the track.
  • Paint the exposed metal of the holes to avoid future rust issues.
  • To avoid any squeaking where metal meets metal, add a sturdy piece of cloth or rubber.
  • Then use stainless steel screws to attach the track.

Curtain Hem

  • To allow movement between the cabin and the living quarters, the curtain will consist of two parts.
  • Both curtains need to be made shorter. To retain the same look, measure the height of the current hem. In my case three inches.
  • Calculate the desired length of the curtain and add three inches for the new hem, plus half an inch for a tuck-under fold.
  • Now cut the fabric.
  • Start forming the tuck-under fold; use a steam iron to set the fold.
  • Fold again at three inches and use pins to secure it. Then set the fold with an iron.
  • Choose a needled and similar colored thread.
  • With the hem pinned at the tuck-under fold, sew the hem. You can do that by hand, but a sewing machine is much faster and gives a cleaner look.

Curtain Pleats

In this narrow space, you’ll likely have four pleats, three spaces in between, an overlap on one side and a return on the other.

  • My calculations resulted in four inch wide pleats, four inch wide spaces in between, a one and three inch overlap and a two inch return. Place a pin at each location. Allow for enough overlap where the two curtains meet.
  • Fold both ends of the pleat together; remove both pins and replace by a single pin.
  • Sew each pleat along its length.
  • Optionally you can create a pinched pleat. By folding the pleat into itself.
  • Insert drapery hooks along the seam at the back of the pleat and one at each end. Adjust the number of hooks where the meet the walls in the vehicle.

Curtain Tie-Down

  • Use a tailoring rule to measure the length of the tie-down.
  • Use one of the previous remnants to cut out the fabric for the tie-down.
  • Fold it inside out lengthwise and create a fold.
  • Sew the three open sides together, leaving one corner open.
  • The turn the sleeve inside out.
  • Push out the corners with a spatula or letter opener.
  • Sew the remaining corner shut.

The final step is adding Velcro to the overlapping sides of the curtain and to the sides. Cut one inch sized pieces, remove their backing and stick them to the fabric and to the walls at reasonable distances.
You may, optionally, also sew them to the fabric, so they better withstand the sometimes high temperatures inside the vehicle.

The fabric will be forward facing, with another lining added to complement the interior design. Both curtains slide behind the Murphy bed when stored.

Conclusion

It was a lot of work, mostly because I did not have the opportunity to use a sewing machine. But with a little patience, anybody can do this.

All materials where acquired locally and the total cost was about $40.00.



Other projects of this Van Conversion:


Disclaimer:
I’m just a DIY’er with a lot of common sense, but with some of the projects, I use some tools and materials, that require you to really know, what you’re doing. Always read the manual and consult an expert if you’re in doubt.

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