Gee, it doesn't seem like I brought this van home from WI last July 22nd - that was over 8 months ago!
Guess what? Out of 8 vans owned, this is the 1st that has not caused me a single minute's 'buyer's remorse'. Go figure!
Oh, SHMBO ain't liking it sitting there, but it has not bothered me a bit. We have looked at a couple of other vans in the past 8 months, but in the end I always decide I want to go thru with this project... I'm just gonna hafta get it out of my system - for better or worse.
I have spent a lot of time researching things like 12v and 110v systems (and am still lost), simple plumbing systems, proper thickness of wood for floor and walls, approved hardware for seat belts and installation and on and on.... deciding on what we 'gotta have' in the van, etc. - what lights?, how many?, where?... which refrigerator? how big? 12v only or 12v/110v or 3 way? no propane? what kind of air conditioner? mounted where? rear dinette? rear sofa? 3rd seat on which side?
A few days shy of having it home 6 months I decided that, yes, I'm gonna finish out this van. My 4 year old son helped in this decision. We looked at another van and he was really excited about it... but after a few minutes he said he was looking forward to helping me "build the big van". And said he'd rather "build the big van" than bring home the one we were looking at. Who am I to argue? (don't answer that)
Oh. Here's what I brought home from WI. The previous owner bought this 2 year old cargo van back in '01 when it had 21k miles on it and then had the Penthouse top installed by Sportsmobile's Indiana facility. He installed the 2 rear windows, insulation and some woodwork for bed support and wall panels. The loose wiring and plywood pieces in the floor are just as I brought it home - the wood is for the bed platforms, upper and lower.... 6 months and I hadn't done a thing!
* This post was
edited 04/02/07 12:22am by ARcruiser *
Soooo... in January the decision was made.... sooner or later I was gonna convert this van. I started ordering stuff and got it into the garage so's maybe I'd do a little work on it....
Now that was fun. In order to get it in the garage, I had to remove some trim from around the garage opening, tie the door in a more upward position than normal, let the air out of the van's tires down to about 5 psi and have wife and son stand at the back of the van for a little more weight in the rear.... getting it back out was even harder - I had to add several heavy landscaping blocks to the mix to get the van to 'squat' enough to get it back out of the garage! Pics will show how low I had the tires.
While in the garage, I stripped the original owner's interior down to the insulation. I also removed one of the windows he had installed so I could evaluate 'how he did it' before starting my window installation.
I made templates and cut the window openings with a 'nibbler'. I installed the window in the rearmost side door and a large window on the left side behind the driver for the third seat. I probably erred too much on the side of caution when cutting, as both holes turned out to be a tiny bit too tight... but that's a lot better than cutting a hole too big, so I got over it.
Also, the side window never looks straight! But, if measured from the door opening over OR from the bottom edge of the exterior side wall OR from similar measurements on the inside, it always comes out to within a 1/16" of being 'right'.... so that's how it's gonna look.
Well, based on past history of owning rather expensive vans that simply sat in the driveway most of the time, and then mostly got used for 'shopping trips', I decided to build something a LOT less expensive that would suit us fine for family shopping trips, daily travel, father/son camping weekends and those rare times that we all would stay overnight somewhere. I doubt that this van will ever venture much farther than 6 hours drive from home base and almost never be out for more than 1 night at a time.... but it will certainly be as capable as any other of being comfortable on longer trips.
Day and night use as follows:
I have installed the subfloor, carpet, third seat and three point seat belt for the third seat.
Another biggie on my list was an Air Bag Deactivation switch for the passenger side air bag. I want the ability to have my son ride up front on our 'bonding trips', so I needed to either remove the air bag or be able to deactivate it. Guess what? The NHTSA does allow for air bag deactivation authorization provided certain criteria are met. A child below age 12 in a cargo van with only two seats (at that time) met the criteria. With authorization given, I was able to order the deactivation switch kit from a GM dealer - once I finally found a parts guy with enough 'want to' to find that a kit was available (it took numerous calls to several dealers before someone finally figured it out - they don't get many requests for deactivation switch kits (most had never heard of such)). I installed the kit today.
Interior floor shots - stripped the interior from the rear doors to the engine block!
Thank you ARcruiser.
You are the champ!
Your post came just in time because I was wondering why most of the posts lately were making me "yawn!"
I love it. I can't wait to see more pics of your progress. And, having your son involved is priceless! He will have wonderful memories of this experience!
I am truly impressed!
Edited by Joe: Changed "grandson" to "son." My apologizes!
* This post was
edited 04/02/07 05:25pm by JoeRT04 *
What wonderful memories you are building with your son. I admire you for that. This is quite THE project and thanks for sharing with us! Maybe in the future there could be an ARcruiser/ArcruiserJR Van Conversion Company??? Wishing you the very best.....cc