I HAVEN’T WORKED ON THE VAN MUCH LATELY. HAD TO FOCUS ON MY JOB, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE 1992 DODGE B-250 VAN HAS STARTED TO FAIL.
Its age and the increasing number of repairs have redirected my focus on the purchase of a new cargo van and restart the van conversion from the beginning.
Fortunately, the new cargo van models available on the market today have many improvements over the old models and manufacturer support is guaranteed for many years to come. Knowledge and experience gained with the current conversion can be applied to the new cargo van and improvements in materials, such as solar panels, may lead to a better end result.
In the next few weeks/months I will make a wish list of desired features, create new concept layouts, research materials, appliances and finishes and define requirements for the new van.
Between the window and the side doors is a narrow strip of wall available to house a small console. It is the future location of the battery monitor and a reading light.
With a narrow piece of wood, the length of the console, placed against the inside wall, the curve of the wall is transferred to the wood. Back in the workshop the form is cut and adjusted to get a perfect fit.
In the meantime, some wood is planed to a 1/2” thickness and the form is temporarily attached to it. With a straight-edge bit, the form is exactly copied to the wood. This and another copy are the two sides of the console.
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?
The 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.
Another day, another window frame. Today I first removed the two remaining window frames. They have a little damage and after their repair, I will paint them like the others.
Insulation has been applied minimally; lots of spaces around the windows and walls are open cavities, like this area under one of the large windows.
For weeks I could not figure out how the ceiling panels were attached to the ceiling. After a lot of prying around, I succeeded in removing one long, narrow side panel, but only after removing the cabin ceiling panel first. It was friction fit and capped by the cabin panel.
At one moment the cabin ceiling panel was just hanging by a thread… Doing the work alone has its advantages, but sometimes an extra hand would come in handy.
I wonder how the interior held it out for 20 years; most of the work I’ve seen sofar is minimal at least. This panel is held up by 3 open clips and 2 screws. In the left rear, you can see the other long, narrow side ceiling panel.
One of the clips of the cabin ceiling panel.
Continued today with the side door window frames.
First I removed the door lock pin.
Followed by the window hinge lock.
And finally the screws.
The door looks quite bare without its frame.
Now I still have to dismantle the frame. The blinds were first.
Followed by its connectors.
Now I had a clean frame to paint.
An hour or two later everything looks brand new. On the second side door I included the vertical center panel.
Before and after. As you can see I also painted the door handle frame as well as a cup holder.
If I had bought a new van, I would have made new wooden window frames, but since the existing frames are still in good order, I have decided to paint them. Last week I bought a spray paint specifically for plastic.
Unsure whether it would hold on the frames, I tried it out and the results were great.
I sprayed a large side frame, the rear door center console panel and both rear door frames and almost did it with one bottle. The dark green was replaced with a light tan color that will fit well with the three color scheme (tan, red cherry and dark gray).
The bottom of one frame has to wait until I have a fresh supply of paint. I calculated that I needed 2 or 3 more bottles to finish the job.
Today’s first is the passenger side, large window frame. A fairly simple job, just a lot of screws. I’ll set this frame apart until I have the correct paint to redo it.
Now we can see a little of the insulation used, some wire of the valance lighting which will be removed, and the former seat belt connection bolt.
I’ll use the latter as an attachment point for my dog’s leash/harness, when he’ll travels with me.
The remaining rear seat belts are still attached to a heavy metal bar underneath the carpet.
Lifting up the carpet, quickly reveals the bar which is attached with bolts to the chassis.
At the end of the day I have some more spare parts.