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  View original topic: Hodakaguy's 4x4 Sprinter Van Build - Our new "Westy" Page: 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:54 pm

Thought I would post up my Sprinter build thread in case anyone wanted to follow along. Some of the mods im doing (interior lighting etc) would cross over well to the Vanagon. I'll keep updating the post as progress happens....and will post up the build thread progress up to the current point.

Since selling our Vanagon then our Tacoma/FWC we have missed having something to camp in and have been contemplating what to build out next and what would best fit our needs. After quite a bit of thought we came up with the following requirements:

* No canvas/pop top, must have a hard top this time around.
* More room than the 4 Wheel Camper (Wife was claustrophobic in the 4WC)
* 4WD
* Can travel at modern freeway speeds (That eliminated the VW Syncro).

After looking at a lot of vehicles we decided a 4WD Sprinter would best fit our needs, now to find one! After talking to many dealers most were saying at least 1+ year wait to get a new sprinter, that's not going to work so I started keeping a close eye for a decent priced used one. Most of the used ones that were coming up were far over priced due to availability but after a month or so of constant looking I was lucky enough to make a deal on a low mile (14K) 2017 4WD 144" Sprinter passenger model....Oh Yeah! It was even in my favorite color and well equipped!

The van was located in CO so my father and I set out from WA state in his Tacoma to pick it up. Here we are getting ready to head out from the sellers house with the Sprinter....soooo hyped!






Fueling up and getting ready for the 1200 mile trip back to WA. This baby is a beast!




Evening near Green River






One of the many fuel stops along the way, we decided to stop whenever the Tacoma was at half tank. This gave us a chance to stretch and also make sure we have enough fuel for the long stretches.




On HWY 50 in Utah you'll find the remains of the Frisco Mine.






I geek out on old mine relics so we headed up the dirt road to check out the remains.








A ways up the road you come to a closed gate with lots of No Trespassing signs...bummer! Time to send up the drone and get a look at the mine from the air :-)

Heading up to the hills.




Lots of really cool relics at this mine site! The massive head frame is still standing along with the huge ore bins. So wish I could go up and check it out in person!










One of the many remaining structures in the valley below the main adit.




Back on the road again. Heading down HWY 50 in UT, man I love these wide open spaces!






Dad taking a rest on HWY 50 :-)




Getting fuel in Baker NV.




We stopped at the Lehman Cave visitor center just outside of Baker, we didn't have time for the cave tour on this trip but the visitor center was cool!

Dad checking out all the Monarch Butterfly's the rigs were picking up out on the highway.






Inside the visitor center was a real surprise, the "Forgotten Winchester" was on display here! It was really cool getting to see it in person, if you haven't seen the story on this gun check it out here: [URL='http://www.winchesterguns.com/news/articles/132-year-old-model-1873-found-against-a-tree-at-great-basin-nati.html']CLICK HERE[/URL]

Dad next to the Forgotten Winchester




Back on the road again






And back home! The sprinter drove amazingly well, the more I drove it the more I love this rig!



Can't wait to start building it out as time and money permit :-) The plan is to keep the build very basic, we don't want a kitchen or water system in the camper. The setup needs to be easily convertible from camper to utility so I can haul a dirt bike etc inside when I want. More to come :-)

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:56 pm

First mod...install a heater! I'm a wuss when it comes to sleeping in the cold so a heater is a must! I have a brand new Espar D2 diesel fired heater that I had purchased when we had the Unimog and never used. The heater is a new "take out" from a semi truck. I almost sold the heater when we sold the Mog, now I'm glad I kept it!

Here's the D2 heater waiting to be installed in the Sprinter.




The heater will be mounted in the open space beneath the passenger seat.











Here's the bottom side of the heater, I will remove the rubber gasket and use it for a template to drill the required holes.




This is the location the heater will be mounted, gasket is in place and holes marked.






Drilling the holes was a quick process thanks to a spring loaded center punch, a couple drill bits and a Step Bit.




Edges of the holes were smoothed out with a reamer, these tools are handy.






Bare edges were painted with cold galv then a coating of black RTV gasket maker for rust prevention. Heater was then bolted into place.








Next up route the wiring for the fuel pump out from the seat base, through the frame and out under the van. There is a factory rubber plug right next to the heater that you can remove and thread the wiring down through the frame channel and out under the van. Here the rubber plug is removed in preparation for pulling the wires through.




The factory D2 connector on the fuel pump wiring needs to be removed to allow the wire to pass through the openings. This is the connector that needs to be removed.




Once the blue retainer clip has been removed with a screw driver you can use a pin release tool to release the wiring terminals and slide the wires out of the connector. Here's the release tool.










Next up take a piece of stiff copper wire and fish the wire from under the van up through the frame and into the seat base. Note that the frame tubing is double stacked and you need to pull the wire through 3 holes total. You can see the copper pull wire sticking up next to the heater in this shot. Also note that already installed on the factory heater wiring harness is a rubber grommet that will fit perfectly in the open hole.




The wire will exit a ways back from the heater, near the front of the slider.




Wire coming out the frame channel.




Factory connector re-installed.




More to come....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:57 pm

Some more progress on the heater install today. I started working early this morning and started taking pictures as I went....that is until I realized that I didn't have the memory card in the camera lol. Well won't be any pictures of the first part of the morning :-)

Drilled the 3" hole for the heater vent in the seat base and attached the heater hose from the heater to the vent.




Removed the trim pieces and the flooring to gain access to the wiring tray. You can lift the white cover and there is black cable tray with factory wiring inside, I used the tray to route the heater power wire as well as the control wires.




This picture was taken going back together, had to remove the plastic trim along side the drivers seat and drill holes for the heater thermostat. I chose this location since it's out of the way and easy to access. You need to really watch the install location here as space is very limited since the seat belt slide takes up most of the space in this area. I also had to extend the control wires so they were long enough to reach from the heater to the controller, the wires run down behind the trim piece, under the drivers seat then into the cable tray and over to the passenger seat.




And a shot of the controller mounted.






Wiring running into the battery area, nothing has been connected yet. The wire used is pre-tinned marine wire, eventually I will install an aux battery system and re-route the heater power wires over to the aux system.




Going back together with the trim and flooring. The heater vent is adjustable so you can direct the air flow where you need it.






I added a switch on the side of the passenger seat for control power to the heater. I chose this location since it's tucked out of the way and easy to access from the drivers seat. This location also won't annoy me when the switch is on and the switch is lit up red.






More to come. I still need to order a few parts (muffler, intake tubing, hose barb for the fuel pump). Hope to finish the heater install up soon!

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:59 pm

Been pretty busy lately and haven't been posting much.

Recently my father and I went to the NW Overland Rally in Plain WA and camped with the van and his Tacoma/Drifter setup. We had a great time and talked to a lot of great people. The rigs worked great, can't wait to start building out the Van and making it more comfortable for camping.

Sooooo many cool ideas at these shows.

Our camp for a few days.






When I was driving the van home from CO we got into a strong cross wind on the drivers side and the roof top AC started making a really annoying rattle which persisted for about 2hrs until the cross wind went away. I kinda forgot about it until a couple days ago coming home from another outing and got into another cross wind....yep rattle was back! Yesterday I got up on top of the van to disassemble the cover on the AC unit and see what's loose, turns out I didn't have to take anything apart to find it! The leading edge of the cover was missing one bolt and the other bolt was super loose allowing the cover to flap up and down. Right before I picked the van up Mercedes had performed a service bulletin to fix a leaking roof AC unit, apparently they forgot to tighten down the front bolts! A little loctite and a new bolt and it's all good to go again.








Next up it's time to add some vents to this baby. The only windows that open for venting are the two front windows but then bugs can easily get in. There is an emergency window that you can open on the drivers side but it has no screens as well and isn't the best option as you need to prop it open with a stick etc. I decided to remove the emergency window and replace it with a CLR double vent window with screens. I'll eventually add a AM slider vent window to the slider door as well.

Here's the stock emergency window.




The emergency window bolts onto the body with 5 small bolts, remove the rubber covers to expose the nuts then remove all 5 nuts. Then it's just a matter of lifting out the window.






Once the window is out just pull out the rubber seal around the window, you won't need the factory seal with the new window.




The vans with the emergency windows will need the mounting holes filled to avoid water leaking into the van. I'll be filling the holes with some stainless 10-32 3/4" long Allen head cap screws with some Sikaflex 221 sealant under the head of the bolt. This will allow me to replace the factory rubber trim caps on the interior once the new window is installed. Once the window is installed the screws will be hidden under the edge of the tinted glass.








New window installed! Here you can see the factory rubber trim caps re-installed on the bolts that are plugging the factory emergency window mounting holes.




Looks factory!










More to come

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:00 pm

Our family camped at the Adventure Van Expo at Mount Hood Oregon this weekend with the Sprinter. We all had a great time and got to meet some really great people. We also checked out some sweet van setups! It was nice for the wife to check out the different interior options in person and helped us nail down a direction we want to go with the van. There were a LOT of vans at the show and the day parking was packed with vans on Saturday. Fun Stuff!

What a view to wake up to in the morning!








Roambuilt.....Yummy! Love the Shadow Rack with built in awning, good for 50mph extended.






Lots of cool stuff to check out!








We took a couple hrs on Saturday to check out the Timberline Lodge up on the side of Mt Hood.






At the show I picked up a few items from Terrawagen for the Sprinter...always fun adding new bits to the rig :-)

These are the Terrawagen storage pockets, they attach to the seat bases with the provided VHB tape. Always nice to have areas to rat hole small items.








Next up is a black Mercedes emblem for the rear doors, no more chrome :-)








And last up is the rock guard for the leading edge of the hood. The guard attaches to the hood with VHB tape as well and the fit is spot on.




Before and after install.








More to come....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:01 pm

Fabricated an aluminum mount for my Scangauge II this morning. I like running the scangauge as I can tweak the MPH display right on the money with the GPS as well as monitor actual coolant temp etc.

The Scangauge II






Laying out the mount on a scrap piece of aluminum plate.




Mount cut, bent and painted.






The mount will be stuck in place with VHB tape




On the Sprinter the OBDII port is located under this cover, I'll have to trim the cover to allow the connector to remain in place while the cover is closed.




Cover trimmed and re-installed with Scanguage cable plugged into the OBDII port.




And installed. I ran the cable up under the rubber door molding, the only portion of cable visible is the small section next to the scangauge.




The mount is angled towards the driver for easy viewing.










On a not so much fun note I completed the B service today. New Oil, engine air, cabin air and fuel filters along with fresh oil.


Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:01 pm

This past weekend the wife and I took a drive over the North Cascade HWY, van did great (other than the air mattress). Weather was perfect, the more I drive this van the more I love it.

Up on the Pass




On the ferry leaving Whidbey Island




Stumbled onto a cool aircraft museum that I had to stop and check out, turns out that my father and I's first aircraft is now in this museum!




As soon as we walked in the door I was greeted with the plane that I solo'd in, a Piper L-4J cub. This plane served in the Philippines in WW2, my father and I purchased it from CA and flew it home to WA 20 years ago! We ended up selling it to a guy in Arlington WA. The folks at the museum offered to let me hop into the seat again, felt great! I have a lot of hrs flying in this bird with my father...great memories!!

Hodakawife and I






Chatting with the Museum staff, always fun swapping airplane stories. These guys were great!




They also let me climb up and sit in their DC3...man what an awesome stop! They just returned from over seas with this plane where it participated in the D-Day anniversary. They were working on the right engine and doing run ups when we arrived....what a sweet sound!




I want to take this baby up for a spin!!!




Back home....

Well after quite a few nights in the van we decided that the air mattress has to go! The mattress on the floor eats up a lot of valuable real estate and leaves no room to stand or move since your cloths etc are laying in the only open area behind the front bench. On this last trip we had the mattress go flat on us for the second time (I think the one way valve in the built in compressor is leaking) so it's time to come up with a better temporary solution.

After we returned home I built up a temporary wooden elevated bed platform, this will give us storage room below the bed and standing room in front. Eventually I would like to install an Adventure Wagon interior kit but this should do the trick for now.

Fabricating brackets that will lock the bed frame to the walls using the factory rear seat mounting bolts.






Painted and installed on the frame






And installed in the van. I covered the frame in vinyl for easy cleaning and used turn buckles on the legs to lock in into position, coupled with the side brackets the bed is very secure and easily removable from the van to haul cargo etc.






I'm 6'1" and can fully stretch out sideways by angling my legs slightly, this should be a lot nicer setup for now. The bed will be a FULL size trimmed down slightly for length.

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:03 pm

Trip Update.....

Just returned from a 1000 mile family road trip through the SE Oregon and NW Nevada Deserts. The new bed platform worked great! Still need to get a roof rack, solar and battery setup in the near future.

After stopping at rivers and sight seeing along the way we headed deep into the Oregon desert to mine Sunstones at the Spectrum mine. We did a combination of ground searching in the free area and some sifting through some pre-dug high grade ore at the mine.

My Son playing Mad Max with his Nerf gun




Heading into the desert....30 plus miles from the nearest pavement.








My son loved riding on the bed once we got off road....he though that was pretty cool!




Pulling into the Spectrum Mine






The Mine Office




Ready for mining!




We elected to sift some high grade ore....everyone had a lot of fun sifting and picking out the sunstones.

Our ore being crushed and getting ready to be loaded in the backhoe for delivery.




Going through the Ore...




We found some nice stones, my son found this red centered stone.




I found a nice AAA Shiller (A Sunstone with copper infused that creates a nice copper sheen)




My Son having a geology conversation with the guy running the mine




More stones collected at the Specrum Mine, later we would find quite a few more shillers in the batch.




We camped for the night in the free public collection area, super quiet and calm out there! We spend maybe 30 minutes looking for Sunstones then called it a day.




My son and I went out looking for stones again in the morning before we hit the road, you don't need a shovel but he really wanted to carry it :-)




The ground is like glass down there with Sunstones




We collected some nice clear stones that my wife will make a rock wire tree out of later.





After traveling the next day we ended up staying at Bog Hot Springs in NV. Bog springs is a Hot flowing river, the water flows from the source out into the desert and eventually just soaks back in. This is one of my favorite soaks.....the scenery is amazing, the temperature is perfect (102 deg) and there is very little sulfur smell. The family really loved this camp spot.










The depth of the water varies and there is a couple spots where people have created dams and larger pools. It's a very nice soak.








Back at camp my wife was cleaning the sunstones and checking for shillers.




A view of the Pueblo Mountains out of the van...not a bad camp site!






Next morning we stopped at Fields Station for fuel, breakfast and a world famous milkshake!








On the Alvord dry lake bed






Steen Mountains in the background....beautiful!




Getting some exercise and driving the RC tank out on the Playa.






50 miles of gravel to make it back to pavement again....and amazing scenery!




On the way home we got in an awesome lighting storm, I only managed to capture one lightning bolt in the few minutes I was trying. Love these storms!




Can't wait till next trip!

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:04 pm

Time to remove the roof AC unit. The roof top AC unit is engine powered by its own compressor and designed to keep the interior cool when loaded with passengers. Unfortunately the unit eats a lot of valuable roof top space that for us could be better used for roof racks, solar panels, vents etc. Since spring we have put almost 12k miles on the van and tested it in temperatures up past 100 deg, in all but the hottest temps we found the dash AC proved to be sufficient and it should be even better once the van is fully insulated. For now I'll be installing a couple Maxair Fans on the roof, solar panels and insulation, eventually I'll add a roof rack down the road as well.


First up remove the interior in preparation for AC removal and insulation. Start at the front and work your way to the back of the van. I didn't take pictures of the removal process but do have before and after shots.

Before...




And after headliner removal.





Removing the side panels. The trim around the windows can stay in place since insulation can be pushed up into the open areas with the trim in place.






Pile of interior parts




Next up is to remove the upper AC unit from the roof. First up take your van to a shop that can reclaim/drain the refrigerant in the upper AC unit, once the unit is drained of refrigerant your ready to start the removal process.

With winter setting in I ran the van over to my buddy Mike's at VanLab to put the van in his nice heated shop....thanks Mike.




In the next couple shots I've already completed a lot of the smaller prep work. At this point you should remove the interior refrigerant lines from the AC unit, the lines run from the unit then down the A pillars. You will need to remove the plastic A pillar trim from both the drivers and passengers side so you can remove the AC lines from the interior of the van. There are two condensate drain lines that get removed at this time as well. Disconnect all the electrical connectors at the AC unit at this time.






Here you can see where I disconnected one of the two AC lines that go through the roof. Next remove the 10mm bolts that attach the upper unit to the roof, there are two 10mm bolts at each AC line connection.




Next move to the roof and remove the bolts from the plastic covers.






Remove the rear plastic cover. Note: The front cover is trapped in place until you remove the rear condenser unit.




In this shot you can see how the condenser unit is attached to the van with 6 studs. The nuts and washers you need to remove are buried under a bunch of white sealant (Looks like Sikaflex).




Next you need to uncover the nuts and washers. A screwdriver, putty knife and pair of pliers are handy tools here.








Once you have all 6 nuts and washers removed you need to separate the condenser mount from the roof of the van, which is also stuck down with more white sealant. For this task I used plastic scrapers, a hammer and some scrap pieces of wood. Start at the rear and use the hammer to drive the scraper between the mount and the roof, this will split the sealant and won't damage the roof. As you move forward tension the mount by lifting up on the rear of the mount and installing a wooden block to keep tension as you go forward. Take your time.








Once the condenser unit is free hand it down to someone on the ground, the unit is really light.




Remove the front plastic cover and the foam block under the cover (pictured here). Mike at VanLab front and center.




The front portion of the unit is sealed to the van using a black adhesive sealant. To remove this portion use a wooden block and pry bar to slightly lift the edges of the unit while you use a long thin razor knife to reach in and separate the sealant. Go slow and work your way around the unit, place wood blocks under the lip as you go so the unit doesn't stick back down to the van as you move forward. A second person is handy here for sure, it took maybe 5 minutes to remove the front unit using this method. Again the unit is light so hand it down to the person on the ground once it's free.




Front unit removed.




Next up remove the wiring coming through the roof. The wiring has a round rubber grommet but is buried in white sealant. Have a person inside the van push up on the rubber grommet with a screwdriver etc and then use your razor knife to cut the sealant around the rubber grommet. Once free stuff the wiring/grommet down into the van.






With the upper unit removed its time to do some clean up.




Use a razor knife to trim off as much of the white sealant as you can without getting into the paint.




Next up use a automotive rubber eraser wheel to finish removing the white sealant without damaging the paint. This wheel makes quick work of removing the sealant.




Like all erasers it's messy so wear a dusk mask.




From this.....




To this...in a couple of minutes.




Next up the condenser mounting areas. I will leave the studs in place and reseal the base of the studs once finished.






Don't use the eraser wheel on the black sealant as it will gum it up and ruin the wheel. Wax/Grease remover removes the black sealant almost instantly, just put some on a shop rag and wipe the sealant off.











Sealed for the night.




More on closing in the holes soon.....

Hodakaguy[/url]

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:05 pm

Progress........

Adding some additional sound dampening material, the whole family got into the game on this one.






Time to get this hole on the roof plugged up, I'm tired of putting tarps on the roof to keep water out of the van lol.

I fabricated an adapter plate to cover the hole that was left behind from removing the Roof AC and create a 14" square opening for the Maxair vent fan. I also made up 3 smaller covers that will seal up the smaller holes left by the AC wiring and hose connections. I covered the plates in Raptor Liner, Raptor Liner is a bed liner material that is very durable and holds up great over time.

Here's the adapter plate in primer, getting ready for the Raptor Liner to be applied.




Raptor Liner fully cured. Here the adapter is setting in place and getting ready to be permanently attached.




The adapter will be bonded to the roof with 3M Panel Bonding Adhesive.




Panel in place with adhesive applied. The panel is being held down with weights and clamps while the adhesive cures, no screws or rivets needed which helps to eliminate leak points.




Next up its time to cut the hole for the rear Maxair Fan. A little measuring, marking and a skinny wheel made quick work of this task.










Here we are cutting a blades width off each side of the fans base. By slightly trimming the base it will fit perfectly between the roof ribs without having to use a separate adapter plate to raise the fan base up, this gives a perfect fit and reduces the number of sealing surfaces and leak potentials.






The fan bases are sealed in place with Sikaflex 252 sealant.






With the bases cured in place I sealed the screws on the bases with Silaprene and sealed the edges of the black adapter/seal off plates with black Sikaflex 221 (Not really a necessary step but can't hurt :-).








Good coverage of sealant squished down inside, nice waterproof seal.




Getting ready to install the fan unit




And installed. I'm happy with the way they turned out, nice and clean. Having the two fans when camping will really be awesome!
















More to come as time allows.....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:05 pm

Haven't been working on the van for a while but it's time to get going on this project again.

First up is to clean up a bit of wiring. There are two pig tails of wiring hanging down from the ceiling that used to go to the roof top AC, I'll remove them and tie the stubs out of the way to the main harness. Also note that I filled the ceiling cross members with low expansion foam since there is no way to pull in insulation through these beams.




Wires shortened and staggered, marine heat shrink applied to ends.




Bundled up to the harness and now out of the way.




Next up.....Insulation. We will be installing 3M Thinsulate SM600L, this is both a thermal and acoustic insulation that is hydrophobic and won't adsorb moisture. My friend ordered a large builders roll and we purchased ours from his roll.

Getting ready to start cutting...




My wife is doing an awesome job cutting and fitting the insulation!








I'll be building the interior out with all new panels (I'll be reusing the factory window trim for a finished look) and will be running L-track along the walls and ceiling similar to the Adventure Wagon interior kits. Part of running the L-track on the ceiling is building braces/supports that will go behind the L-track and greatly increase it's load capacity.

The Adventure Wagon interior kits come with really nice support brackets, but they start at $11K which is a little rich for my blood so I'll be fabricating my own brackets. I Picked up some C-channel and flat bar to fabricate the supports with, this will be rock solid when finished.






Cutting mounting tabs.






Tabs cut and mounting holes being marked and drilled.








First brace ready to test fit in place.






Looks like it's going to fit perfect. The L-track will be bolted into the roof supports via Plus Nuts then will be bolted into the braces as well for extra support.




More to come.....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:06 pm

A bit more progress today.....

I switched gears and decided to get the L-track mounted in place so work on the wall and ceiling panels can start, once the panels are finished I'll continue on brace fabrication and installation.

Here's the L-track all ready to be installed.






I'll be mounting the L-track into the van using Plus Nuts, they are similar to Rivet Nuts but offer a better hold with more surface area. Here's a picture of the Plus Nut setting tool and a 1/4" Plus Nut.




Rivet Nut on the left and Plus Nut on the right.




Here's an example of a Plus Nut installed in a scrap piece of tubing so you can see how it grabs on the back side.






Drilling the holes in the L-Track. Once the track is all installed I'll pull it back off and taper the holes so the bolts are flush in the track.






Drilling the holes in the ceiling cross members and installing Plus Nuts.








Next up is prepping the sides for L-track. I'm going to re-use the stock grey plastic window trim for a nice finished look but a bit needs to be trimmed off the top edge to allow the L-track to be installed. Some quick work with a straight edge and some tin snips made quick work on this job.




And trimmed all the way to the front.




Plus nuts installed....




L-track installed.






Will try and get the rest of the track installed tomorrow....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:07 pm

This morning we cut the final piece to finish out the horizontal run above the drivers side windows. An aluminum blade on a chop or miter saw works perfectly, makes a nice clean cut that's perfectly square.




I marked the hole locations and here we're installing the plus nuts.










And installed. I'll be counter sinking the holes and installing flush bolts later in the build.




Finishing the trimming of the passenger side rear window plastic.




Marking and drilling the holes in the passenger side window L-track.






Next I used the drilled L-track as a guide to transfer the hole locations to the van. Used the same 1/4" bit to just barely make a mark on the van wall then remove the L-track and use a punch and 3 drill bits to step the hole up to size for the plus nut. My dad is giving me a hand here, it's great to have an extra set of hands!




Using a shot vac when drilling the holes really saves a lot of mess and clean up work.




Plus nut's installed and L-track mounted.






To install the two forward pieces of L-track on the ceiling I'll need to fabricate the supports at this time since there is only 1 bolt that will go into the roof rib, the rest of the bolts will be in the support braces. Here I'm starting to fabricate the brace using the same C-channel.




Cutting a notch on the ends to allow the mounting tabs to angle back a bit to match the angle of the roof beams. Using my favorite shop tool....my Portaband.








Getting ready to weld on the mounting tabs, the tabs are welded out on both sides.






Installing the Plus Nuts and bolting up the support.






Once bolted into place I transferred the hole locations to the brace and pulled it off once more to drill the holes and install the Plus Nuts into the brace.






And All bolted into place in the van. This setup is going to be super strong once all the braces are installed! The two pieces of L-track came out nice and tight.






At this point I stopped taking a lot of pictures as we worked to get the drivers side finished before daylight faded. On the drivers side brace I decided to angle the ends of the mounting tabs upwards a bit to ensure they stay out of the way.




Drivers side mounted up.




And ceiling completed for now. The fish-eye lens on the phone makes the tracks look like they are bent a bit in the photo.




More to come....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:08 pm

More progress...

Welding up more roof L-track braces. The first brace now has the proper angle set, I just used that brace and flipped it upside down to replicate the angle on the other braces.




Counter sinking the bolt holes in the forward piece of L-track.




Bolts will now sit flush in the L-track






Next up I decided to install the OEM roof rails. These rails will ultimately be used to attach a roof rack to the van and support solar, an awning etc. The van comes from the factory with holes already punched into the body to accommodate the roof rails, there are plastic plugs in the holes with adhesive sealing them from the weather.

Plug viewed from the roof...




And the plug from inside the van..




Removing the plugs is pretty easy. Use a heat gun from inside the van and heat the plastic plug to the point where it just starts to deform. At that point just use a screw driver to push up on the plug and it will pop right out. While the adhesive is still hot use a plastic scraper to remove as much as the adhesive as possible.






Piece of plastic lexan cut to use as a scraper.




Up top after cleaning it up with the scraper.




Working my way down the channel




Using a little acetone to clean up the remaining adhesive around the holes.




Before cleaning with acetone...




And after....




I chose to go with the OEM roof rails...if you shop around you can find these for not a lot more than the aftermarket units and you know they will fit perfectly.

Here's one of the studs on the roof rail. The rail has a rubber washer at the base of the mounting studs to seal the rail against the roof.




I added some Butyl rubber around the base of the stud to ensure a water proof connection to the van.




I placed a small amount of Butyl around the base of the stud on the inside of the van as well.




Loctite 243 applied to the threads then started slowly tightening the nuts down. I slowly went back and forth allowing the Butyl to ease out between tightening steps. Eventually they were all tight and the rails are now in place.








More to come.....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:08 pm

Bit more work today on the upper supports.

Here I have the holes pre-drilled in the L-Track and the support clamped in place to the track.




I'm using the drill to just lightly make a center mark on the support and using the pre drilled L-track as a guide.




Next up is to center punch the plus nut locations using the marks left by the drill bit then drill the holes for the plus nuts.






Installing the plus nuts and seating them in place.






Before and after seating the plus nuts.




And mounted up in the van. Now that the brace is mounted to the L-Track I can mark and drill the holes for the Plus Nuts that will support the braces to the cross members.






Then Just more of the same....














More to come...

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:09 pm

More progress.....

With the upper braces completed it's time to remove them and get them painted before final install. I'll mark them so that I know what area and direction that they came out of to make re-installation easy.

Here I'm using an Air Scribe to mark the braces starting from the rear and moving forward.






Braces painted and drying.




With the braces out it's time to finish counter sinking the holes in the L-track.








I used plus nuts to install the front two braces into the vans roof ribs, on the remaining units I switched it up and decided to go with heavy duty steel 1/4" pop rivets. Here the passenger side rear brace has been riveted into place. Solid!






On the middle two braces I had to mix it up a bit. Since this van was a passenger model with the roof AC unit there are factory braces welded onto the under side of the roof that the AC unit used to mount to. These factory braces interfere with my brace design so I had to come up with something a little different for the middle two braces. Ultimately I decided to just use the factory bracing to support one end of my brace.

Here my support brace is in place and slid into the factory brace on one end.




This is the piece that will join the two braces.




Joining piece slid into place




Adding the side plates to join everything together.




And finishing it all up.








At this point I ran out of rivets so I'll switch over to something else for now.

Here I've removed the horizontal L-Track so I can counter sink the mounting holes. At this time I'm going to install a piece of wood to form a wire chase for the factory wire loom.




Rear piece in place.




When the panels are added this piece of wood will kick the panels out just enough to allow the wires to run through the channel behind the panels.




Front section going in.






Time to remove the rear passenger side horizontal L-track and finish counter sinking all the holes.














More to come...

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:09 pm

Time to upgrade my pneumatic rivet gun. My old JET unit is only made for 3/16" rivets but I installed a 1/4" tip and it kinda got the job done so far. To pop a 1/4" steel rivet it took many pulls of the trigger and its hammering the poor thing. Time for a upgrade.

I read a lot of good reviews on the Harbor freight 1/4" rivet gun so I snagged their"Proffessional" Chief unit today and came home to give it a try. Pops aluminum or steel 1/4" rivets with ease every time! Quality looks and feels great as well. Time will tell how it holds up but it's not a high use tool in my shop so it should be fine.



Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:10 pm

Final installation of the roof braces and L-Track.

One of the forward pieces.




And everything in place and installed....sorry not many pictures today as a cold front is coming in and it's freezing outside.










Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:11 pm

More L-Track Work. I'm going to add a couple small sections of L-track on the rear doors, they will be good for numerous things like hanging a cloths line between them when the doors are open, handing small bags for your pocket items when on the bed, etc etc.

Time to break into the angled L-track and cut a couple pieces down to size.






Rear door pieces cut to size. I'm applying tape along the edges to keep them from getting scratched up while in the vise.




Drilling holes....




Here I'm using a Forstner bit to recess the back side of the L-track. The heads on the Plus nuts stick up about a 1/16" or so above the vans sheet metal causing the L-track to tighten up against the head of the Plus nut only. This causes the loads on the L-track to be distributed directly to the plus nuts instead of spreading the load out over the entire rear surface of the L-track and the vans sheet metal. With the rear recess holes in place the L-track can now sit down completely flush against the van.




Recessed holes complete for one side.






Here you can see how the head of the plus nut will recess down into the L-track to allow the L-track to sit flush.




Front side counter sinks completed.












Here are the plastic end caps that will finish these pieces off.






Installing the plus nuts into the door.




And installed. These should be great for any number of uses.








Next up the passenger side horizontal L-track.








Thinsulate installed in the recesses behind the L-track.




And installed




Next up is to use the Forstner bit to recess the back sides of the upper L-track. This will allow the braces to sit down completely flush on my support braces and add a lot of strength/rigidity in the process.








And re-installing the piece back on the ceiling braces




In this shot you can see the huge difference that the recess makes in allowing the L-track to fit up tight against the Braces, will be a LOT more solid.




And after both sides have been recessed.








More of the same on the drivers side.







More to come....

Hodakaguy

Hodakaguy Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:12 pm

Sun is out...time for some more progress.

Yesterday I snagged a RoamBuilt aluminum rear ladder, now to get it installed.

I like the Roambuilt rear ladder since it has the double hoops and wide steps, it makes the ladder super secure to climb....even in sandals :-). I also like how the ladder is out away from the van a bit, keeps toes from scratching up the paint when going up and down the ladder and gives a better footprint.




First up...remove the door panels. I needed to remove these anyways to finish installing insulation in the doors.






I applied some painters tape to the door to keep if from getting scratched up while fitting the ladder. I held the door in place and drilled the upper center hole first then pinned it with a bolt, then aligned and did the same thing on the bottom. Then marked and drilled the remaining holes.




Test fitting to make sure the bolts all fit correctly....Check :-)




Deburring the holes.






I didn't get any pictures but I did apply primer and paint on the holes. After the paint was dry it's time to mount up the ladder.

I used some Sikaflex 221 to ensure a waterproof seal at the door. The ladder came with some gaskets pre-cut and I used the Sikaflex as well for extra measure.




Here's a shot of the aluminum backing plates installed in the doors. I used Sikaflex on these as well.






And installed. Love the looks of this setup.....now to get my roof rack so I have something to climb up to lol.










Switches.....

I'll be installing these switches in the ceiling to control the LED lighting, they will allow me to turn the lights off, work with the door switches on the starting battery or use them while camping off the house battery. Now to make some adapter plates so I can attach them to the ceiling.






A sheer made quick work out of knocking out some aluminum squares.






Also used the CNC plasma table to cut out a plate for my fridge power port and cig plug outlet.






Parts.....




Now to finish up the switch plates. I still have to paint them before they are ready to install.












Powerlet and Blue Sea Cig Plugs.




More to come...

Hodakaguy



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