Tag Archives: insulation

Cargo Van Conversion: Safety First!

When you’re seriously considering to transform your cargo van into a full-fletched RV, you really have to pay attention to your SAFETY during and after the conversion. You know, whether you’re clumsy, impatient or don’t know how to hold a hammer. In that case, this undertaking is not for you. Go and buy a fully converted van from a professional or just put a mattress and porto-potti in the back of your van.
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Is RV Soundproofing Really Essential?

In planning the upcoming conversion, one of the first issues I have to look at is insulation. While insulating an RV tends to be against heat loss and cold, more and more conversions nowadays incorporate some sort of soundproofing.

dynamatVery popular materials are Dynamat, Fatmat and the poor man’s Peel & Seal. Popularized with car audio installations, these products are finding their way into the RV business. High-end audio listeners appreciate the sound improvements these products can offer in passenger cars or trucks where they mainly dampen the redistribution of sound through vibration.

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Heaters for the RV

How To Stay Warm In Winter


Staying warm during such a period can be difficult, yet good planning of your van conversion will keep your Cargo Van and you nice and cozy.

coldHeating issues are common in RV’s, where manufacturers seldom make an extra effort to upgrade the wall, floor and ceiling insulation, which leaves the occupant vulnerable when no electricity is available. With full hook-ups there is seldom a problem, yet many of us with smaller sized RV’s frequently like to boondock and are struggling to stay comfortable.

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Bed, Wall & Window

Before continuing with the other side of the van interior, it’s time to put the wall and window above the bed, back together again.
Two issues remain: the battery cables and the solar controller cable need to be installed. The other is the decision I have to make, whether to go ahead with batting as insulation or choose a foam product.

Despite some negative comments about the batting material, it has served me well over the years. On the other hand, spray foam would do a better job in filling all the little air pockets in the walls. Some people, however, have mentioned a squeaking noise while driving. Have you any thoughts about it?

4041The original wall panel is still around. The covering is removed and the plywood base is what we have to work with. I could copy it to a new, one-piece sheet of plywood, but it is in a condition to be reused.

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While working on the multi-use cabinet, I started with some of the wiring. Before I can continue building new cabinets, the majority of the electrical wiring has to be installed.

Battery Monitor

The monitor will be located on the wall next to the side doors and connected to the batteries with 4 small wires. A short piece of Cat5 cable will do the job, because the battery compartment is only a few feet away.

 monitor and battery compartment


1211The cable is guided through the door channel to the floor, where it will be connected to the battery bank at a later time.



The cabling is left as is, until the hardware is installed.


Battery Charger

Under the bed are two shallow window compartments, which are above the wheel housing. Adjoining is a regular compartment that will contain most electrical devices, such as charger, inverter and controller. It has a removable side-wall for easy access.


Because the wheel housing is in the way, any cabling will have to go through the shallow compartments. A hollow core separation will serve as a divider between the two spaces, while at the same time hiding the wires.


14The divider consists of two 1/8” plywood sides, one solid base and a top divided in three, for later access to any cables.


15The parts are glued together in several steps and sanded to final dimensions.


The divider easily slides in at one side of the compartment.



After fitting, a few holes are drilled on both sides of the compartment, that will accommodate the wiring.



After a final check, the divider is glued-in and reinforced with two nails.


2122The actual wiring is just a matter of pulling the Romex wire through the divider and along the wall towards the right rear brake light.

2526The wire is then connected to a 110V power inlet, that will be installed below the brake light.

An extension cord plugged into the power inlet at the outside rear of the van, will power the battery charger.




The bed (3)

The area under the bed is divided in compartments, from front to back: batteries, toilet, inverter & solar controller and bed linens with some extra space available on top of the wheel casing. The battery compartment allows a maximum of 4 batteries with a vent hole to the outside. I put the toilet next to it, to act as a separation between it and the electronics.

010The internal divisions consist of regular ¼” plywood attached to the frame.



011The front wall of the electronics compartment (here on center/left), is a piece of ½” ply, that will support a inverter, controller and possibly a converter. To make access a little bit easier, I made the right wall (¼” ply) removable.


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The area above the rear wheel, received some rigid insulation board at the walls first, and then filled up with house insulation,



The final result.


Floor insulation


010011As a base for the interior, I decided to put in a ½” thick piece of plywood on top of ½” rigid insulation board. I started to fill in lengthwise indentations of the metal floor with strips of a thin insulation material, to maximize the R-value.


012013Subsequently the insulation boards were applied. This applied only to the rear half of the van, since the other half still had the original insulation installed. I only had to fill the areas under the former rear chairs, which were left bare.

Rust and holes.

Now it is time to do some restoration work to the floor.

001 002A few areas had a some surface rust. A little sanding and some fresh paint took care of that.


Now I had to fill the dozen or so holes in the floor, that were left after the removal of the bench, chairs and safety belts.

004I choose for carriage bolts with washers. With some additional caulk, they would solidly close these openings and later on, their flat heads will be covered by some rigid insulation board.


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009Again, working alone on the van, added a couple of extra hours to the work. Sometimes the fastening of the bolts left me with one hand short.


Subfloor removal

036First thing I noticed was some water damage to the subfloor, which is to be expected after 20 years of use. It will be replaced with a regular ½ inch plywood panel.

037The wood is attached with a couple of metal screws to the metal floor.

038The rear 4 feet doesn’t have any insulation at all. That is something I’ll improve on with the new underlayment.

039The remainder of the carpet is a snap, because there is no ply involved and the ½ inch insulation remains in place. I’ll leave the carpet in the cabin in place, until I’ve decided on the replacement material.