At times it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. That it would all come together and work out the way we dreamed and hoped was a tall order.
But we did it! Our 2019 Ford Transit campervan is back on the road and ready for our new travel and camping adventures!
It’s been a few months now since the last screw was driven in and the final bolt tightened. So, let’s go back to the beginning and get you all caught up.
Here’s the link to the Van Renovation Introduction video: https://youtu.be/axL68qUa760?si=NTdomtAI6-9hBZza
Some would say we were kind of crazy to tear nearly everything out of the van and basically start from scratch. But we relate it to living in a house. You get the house and live in it for a year.
During that time, you start to have a good idea what works for you and what doesn’t. So, you call up the contractor with your lists of renovation ideas and they get to work making the house your dream home.
That’s what we did. We lived with our van and its roughly 420 cubic foot interior for a while. We thought it would serve us well for weekend getaways and weeks-long adventure trips. We soon discovered all the “pinch points” of the design.
What we thought was going to be ideal, didn’t end up that way. So we ripped out everything down to the wall and ceiling panels and started to plan and build our remodeled interior space.
After owning a small Class-A motorhome with rear twin beds that we loved so much, we knew the new van interior would have a slightly scaled down version of the rear beds.
In our previous van interior, we both opted to not have a sink or running water, and to carry a Porta Potty tucked away under the elevated bed platform. We found that decision to be a mistake that needed to be changed.
Here’s the link to the solar installation video: https://youtu.be/SsyanleOods
One of the “big ticket items” we determined was a “must have” was air conditioning. Unfortunately, to achieve that cool goal, we also needed to seriously revamp and upgrade our rechargeable battery system plus add solar to help generate power.
Achieving that was WAY out of our knowledge base and beyond our skill set. By chance we came across Shawn, owner of Sota Solar in the Minneapolis area. He works out of his home and doesn’t have the high overhead cost of running a shop. His estimate to do what needed to be done was much less expensive than what other van conversion shops were quoting us.
JK had to build some preliminary plywood bed box enclosures for all the new electric components to be mounted within, and a basic kitchen cabinet to help run conduit and locate power switches and outlets.
The rooftop solar installation and electric work had our van parked in Shawn’s driveway up in the Cities for about two weeks. But the time spent waiting for the work to be complete was well worth it.
Here’s the link to the build YouTube video: https://youtu.be/XW5EuvoOofA
Once our van was safely back in our driveway, JK got back to work building the new kitchen cabinet with sink and running water and a new cabinet to mount our refrigerator and an enclosed box to store (and use) our Porta-Potty in the van.
There was so much saw dust from all the wood cutting that if we could have glued it all back together we’re sure it could have given us another full 4×8 sheet of plywood!
We spent many hours on the internet sourcing new custom sized seat cushions, mattresses, and sheets to fit.
We took numerous trips to the home improvement warehouse store for special birch plywood, the local lumber yard for paint, cabinet hardware, screws, bolts, and the plumbing shop for hose fittings, and other supplies.
Here’s the link to the cabinet build video: https://youtu.be/aBiKyUnVLLc
Like any remodeling project, it always takes longer than you think it should to complete. Planning, designing, and building, only to discover that it won’t fit in the allotted space all eats up build time. Having to build things, such as multiple cabinet drawers, without previous experience can be daunting.
But it’s all a learning experience. Prepping, priming and painting multiple coats takes much longer than expected.
We saved money by doing nearly everything ourselves. The cut and fit isn’t exact like the professional van conversion builders who use computer aided design and laser CNC machines to cut components. But JK likes to say our van interior isn’t perfect but it’s a piece of “Folk Art.” And we love it!
Here’s the link to the build wrap-up video: https://youtu.be/IGZQT91xwRM
We have already taken several trips in the van now that our renovation is complete. Our first trip was a week-long “shakedown cruise” to test out everything.
To find out how that went, check out this video: https://youtu.be/kM19HiiBk2Q
We will share more about these post-remodel trips in up-coming blog posts, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading and following along with us on our adventures!