Tag Archives: side door

Insulating Your RV: Passive Cooling

PREVIOUS: Acoustic Insulation

Insulating is only one approach to avoid heat gain/loss. Passive cooling techniques were developed for the home, yet also apply to recreational vehicles.

Cooling is enhanced through natural breezes or by fans that move the air; improved evaporation exposes the skin to dryer air as long as the humidity is not too high. Rising warm air flows out out the vehicle through the roof-mounted vent and that pulls in cooler air from lower ventilation openings.

fantastic-4000rTo boost air movement, exit locations in the form of roof vents can be found in most RV’s, yet low placed entryways are virtually non-existent. Windows and doors take their place, but doors are often closed and windows are located fairly high in the walls of the van. A better solution may be to introduce a floor vent at the opposing end of the vehicle and away from the roof vent. Relatively cooler air from the permanently shaded area below the vehicle would be able to enter the vehicle here, move through the interior to the other end of the van, to exit at the roof vent location, either naturally or mechanically. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Passive Cooling

How To Transform A Bed Into A Work Desk & More

Going from bed to family room with TV and picture and finally to work desk, may be the ultimate task, that I set for myself, yet it may be the perfect solution for comfortable living in a small space, such as a converted cargo van.

In finding the best layout for the new cargo van conversion, I have been tinkering with a large, elevated bed in the rear with storage space below for bikes.

Continue reading How To Transform A Bed Into A Work Desk & More

Monitor Console

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.

04In 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.

Continue reading Monitor Console

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.

Continue reading Bed, Wall & Window

Wiring (2)

Continuing with the wiring of the van, gives me the opportunity to search for and order some of the materials, needed in the coming weeks. My list currently consists of wire connectors, heat shrink, 12V outlets and power inlet. I still haven’t found decent and affordable 12V LED light fixtures either.


LED Lights

Several 12V LED spotlights will be positioned throughout the van in addition to a larger LED fixture on the ceiling, in the center of the vehicle. Quality and choice has improved and their combined load is negligible in comparison to the old bulbs.

27For that purpose, I use some spare 16AWG lamp wire.


28The wire for the rear bed light starts again at the battery compartment and is guided between the bed and the outside wall to the back of the van.


3031The LED will be high up on the rear wall, next to the rear doors. The wire is temporarily fastened to the top railing until the light is acquired.

32From the batteries another wire is pulled up through the channel next to the side doors, to a light at the battery monitor, where it is split into two.

3334One is led over the side doors to a location above the passenger seat.

35Another a short distance along the ceiling.

36Finally everything needs some labeling.


After all the cables are tied down, the wall panels are to be refitted, and nothing will be visible.


*Always use wire that conforms with the wiring requirements of your specific application.




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.




Multi-Use Cabinet (8)

After my last post, I took a short brake, but now I’m refreshed and at it again. We are in the final stretch of the multi purpose cabinet and next time I hope to have it ready to install in the (cargo) van conversion.

123Meanwhile, to prevent any noise made by the cooktop cover while driving, two rare earth magnets are installed and covered by a thin wood plug.


A bit of super glue does wonders.

Next is the folding shelf.

122125It’s attached with a piano hinge at the bottom and two bolts at the top. The open space above is the second access to the cooktop.


126Time for some paint work. The maple top and the two vertical decorations got three layers of paint. The gray color should contrast the reddish finish of the cherry cabinet.


134133The top is attached to the cabinet with 4 screwed in blocks.


127At the same time, both side panels are fitted and temporarily installed. With those panels installed, the electrical outlet follows. I use the scroll saw to cut out the hole.


128129And finish it off with the outlet and plate.


130131To change the very solid look of both sides and to accentuate the airy feel of the two front legs, the legs are cut out and the opening finished with a downward curve.





Multi-Use Cabinet (7)

Previously I messed up one of the drawer bottoms of the cabinet that I’m making for my (cargo) van conversion. First redo that, then do the top surface with access to the cooktop. After all the major parts have been put together, only the hardware, the finishing and final installation in the van remains.

9697The drawers are done but now we’re approaching the end of this mini-project, I still had to fit the sub-cabinet box to the step-up area in the van.


Shelf Hinges


98Another small job is the installation of the shelf side hinges. A recessed space has to be created on both sides of the shelf/door.


99100With a straight router bit, I take three passes to get to the depth of the recess. The Cherry side panel is wide enough to act as a stable base, while using its side as a guide for the router.


101A screw hole is pre-drilled and some wax is applied to the screw to ease it into the wood.

102The hinges are now ready for the shelf.


 Cabinet Top


103The top of the cabinet needs to have an access to the cooktop during interior use. A 14” x 14” maple square will be attached with a piano hinge to a Cherry frame.

104I oversize the 3/8” thick panel and then remove narrow strips on each side, which are then flipped over to the bottom of the piece. This way, I’ll save a little weight on an already too heavy cabinet.

Then again lots of sanding to get everything flat and straight.


106The Cherry frame around the lid has two boards on the sides and a long board in the rear.
They will be held together with the help of a sliding tenon.


107108Both ends receive a mortise, made with a stationary router.


109110Then a loose tenon is made out of the same material with the corners rounded to conform to the router made mortise.



Finally each end is glued together.

112The lid and a temporary brace are used for final adjustments to the frame during glue-up. Let it all dry overnight to obtain a good bond.


113The next morning the sides are trimmed and sanded. The piano hinge is temporarily attached so its thickness is accounted for when establishing the front curve of the cabinet top.

114At the same time a 2” high overhang is glued to the front of the lid. It functions as the lid handle and is part of that front curve.

115The front of the cabinet top has a curve that is similar to the one at the front bottom of the cabinet. The same technique is used to establish the curve.
Take a thin piece of stock, hold it at both ends at the required depth of the curve (here I use 2 clamps for that) and pull it out to the desired point at the center.

116117Draw a line and cut the curve on the bandsaw. It’ll need some sanding to bring it to a graceful curve.


120121The cabinet is now close to its final form and shape.



The simple, gentle curves complement the overall design of the cabinet.


Multi-Use Cabinet (6)

A lot of time is spent on this multi purpose cabinet in pursuit of a high standard of finish. When it is ready and installed in the next two weeks, I will continue with the cargo van conversion. There’s the solar prep and walls & floors to be finished.


7778Previously I installed a Romex wire from the future inverter location to this side door cabinet. The wire will be connected to the electrical outlet in the side of the cabinet.


79To continue with the drawers, I have sized the parts of the large bottom drawer and dadoed the appropriate edges.


8081I temporarily fitted the bottom drawer front panel and the two ‘ribbed’ decorations to get an impression how things are going to look like.


82Now again some resawing on the bandsaw for the two top drawers.


8384I use the side panels of the topmost drawer to attach the side rails at their exact locations.


85As the drawer bottoms I use some hardboard with a light gray Formica glued to it.


86With all the parts ready, the bottom drawer is put together. Normally, I leave the rear panel a little short, for the bottom panel to slide underneath into the bottom grooves of the other panels. A screw through the bottom into the back panel, would hold everything together and would let you remove the drawer bottom at a later time. As this drawer is accessible on front and back, the drawer bottom will be fully enclosed.

The final fitting involves a lot of sanding and the use of a block plane to achieve the best fit and a smooth forward and backward action.


Now repeat the whole process for the two other drawers.







Unfortunately I messed up one of the drawer bottoms, so there’s some more sawing and gluing to do.


Multi-Use Cabinet (4)


Back Panel

After the plywood core, the cherry frame and the decorations, I now turn to the back panel of the cabinet. In its up-position, it covers and protects the drawers section, while in the down-position it functions as a side table when sitting outside the van, with the side doors of the cargo van conversion open. The panel will be hinged at the bottom and have sliding locks at the top.


First I cover a plywood sheet with cherry ply to form the core of the panel. Next is the edging; for durability, I choose a 1/8” cherry strip.
There are multiple ways to saw and attach the edging. Using only basic tools and few clamps, I start with a cherry board, slightly larger than the longest panel edge.
After sizing and dimensioning to a thickness proud of the panel, the board is glued to the panel.


5051The rigidness of the board ensures a good distribution of pressure, which limits the need of additional clamps.


A few hours later we’re ready to cut the edging to its appropriate width.


The hardwood edge should now be, just proud of the the plywood panel.

With a careful use of a block plane, most of the protruding edge is removed.

A scraper, followed by a light sanding finish the job.

Both ends are now cut flush.

This durable hardwood edge will stand up to more abuse than any iron-on edge banding.


The previous process is repeated for each side of the panel.

The finished panel now covers the rear opening of the cabinet.



Remaining are two side posts that will protect the panel and hide the edges of the plywood side panels.


A tight fit