Van building – Week 4

While I was still in Latvia for the first few days of the week Stiina continued working on the van by cutting out and fixing in place the plywood plate that separates the storage space in the back of the van from the living space. Unfortunately we couldn’t buy a large enough “pretty” plate so we agreed that we would just use this gray water resistant plywood plate that has this cool honey-comb texture on it as the separation plate and then maybe cover it later or just leave it as it is, depending on how ugly it’s going to look. It was just the material that we had available.

After that she managed to build a window box and started working on the shelves in the back of the van, next to the bed.

When I arrived, after assessing all the damage of the previous week (kidding) I helped Stiina a little bit. To be honest I was impressed by how independent the girl had become: she was not afraid to use “the scary” electric tools or the big saw anymore – great, less work for me. So I started by putting in place the bottom plate of the kitchen cabinets; nothing fancy, just painted aluminum L-brackets on sides with a long custom angle bracket due to the curvature of the wall under and the shelf on top. We weren’t yet sure how we wanted the cabinets to look like in the end so we left that for later.

In the meanwhile Stiina’s dad was figuring out and putting in place our alternative heater (Eberspächer diesel heater) as in the manual it was recommended that it should be mounted by a professional. Thankfully we had one at hand. The tricky part was that it takes diesel from the car’s tank, so he had to lower the fuel tank from under the car, drill a hole to mount the heater’s fuel hose in it, and then mount on the fuel pump which had to be mounted at a specific 15-30 degree angle. Additionally the exhaust pipe, air intake pipe for the combustion and all the electrical wiring had to be mounted under the car.

We probably would have managed on our own but not in one day – amazing job! The only disappointing part that happened was that while reading through the manual we found out that if we planned to use the heater above 1500m altitude for longer than a day (which we definitely will) it is necessary to adjust the heater’s altitude, which you can only do by acquiring a special altitude kit, which of course is not very cheap (and that is in addition to the heater’s own 550EUR pricetag).

I then started working on the seating area in front of the bed, which turned out to be trickier than it looked. As nothing in the van is really straight or level (or at least you can’t trust anything) it took some figuring out of how to make it work. The construction itself was pretty simple: just cutting the right size plywood planks and screwing them together with various methods, though mostly using metal L-brackets.

During the seat building process we had to slightly change the plan for the right wall behind the seat. Initially we planned to simply put decorative wooden planks all the way from the seat to the ceiling, but because we wanted to give some more air space to the heater and also to have an edge for fixing our bed extension we came up with a different plan. We glued on a piece of plywood to cover the insulation and made a small “pretty” wall there which still has to be fixed in place.

Stiina in the meanwhile had finished furnishing the back of the van, putting shelves and first doors in the van, which turned out pretty good and functional as well. It didn’t all went as smooth as it sounds, there were a couple of redo’s needed, but overall, really good job.

At one point during the week we went for a little shopping tour to buy drawer and door handles, gas-springs, more electric outlets, a gas hose, more of the pretty plates and more of the felt to cover some exposed parts of the van.

Also our heavy duty, deep cycle AGM batteries from Euroglobe arrived. According to the calculation of our daily needs we initially planned to acquire 2x140Ah of battery capacity. However, the specific website we planned to order them from (because we could get a good discount through Stiina’s dad) could not deliver them on time but instead offered us to get 2x180Ah instead for just a little bit of extra cost. And they would deliver them already the next day! We thought: great, the bigger the batteries the more smoothies we can make, so it was a deal! We didn’t mount them yet, just tried to fit them in where we planned to mount them.

Overall a pretty productive week with lots of progress so we carried all of the good momentum into the next week, which is the current one and you will hear about it soon!

One thought on “Van building – Week 4

  1. Wow! Super impressed. Thx for sharing your van build out. May you enjoy many great adventures fueled by vegan ramen bombs or better! Miss you guys, hope to catch back up in the not too distant future.


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