View original topic: Adventurewagen Cabinet/Electrical redo :-)
digthemlows Mon May 17, 2021 1:25 pm

Ok, so as a family of four that spends over 100+ nights a year in our van doing pretty intense travel, we're always figuring out what to do to make the vehicle work best for us. We do lots of local camping, but also do 3 weeks every winter in Baja, and other longer trips throughout. We're doing a cross country trip this summer (45 days, 10K miles) and decided to rebuild the interior to get us ready. The adventurewagen interior is a pain when traveling because the fridge being right there when you open the slider is terrible when trying to make sandwiches while driving, or really anything as far as on the road. It felt cramped, especially when my wife or I as passengers would transfer to the back to check in on, or help the kids with things. And, given the years of different owners doing things with the aux electrical system, I figured it was time to do a re-wire so I didn't have to chase down strange things other folks (including me) had done to make it work.

Our 89 Syncro AW

For those who don't know here's the original AW interior

The spaghetti behind the cabinet was insane

for whatever reason the PO cut big holes to run electrical into the cabin, then right back out. It's no wonder my underseat area was always so dusty

Cleaning out the holes, then we welding them

Removed the parkay and subfloor to put in new flooring, put sound dampening as well. Because of the grey water tank underneith we couldn't really make the propex work where the original furnace was. I wanted to save space for storage under the bench seat so we decided we'd build a platform for the fridge and have the propex under

In order to gain a little extra space (the 10gallon fresh water tank is big) we put it on a platform so I could mount the water pump under the tank). We mounted the propex on the subfloor so the platform could remain lower (my wife likes to sit on the fridge)

While adding electrical, we decide it's a good time for a Maxxair fan!

time to clean up and put in appropriate electrical components

DC to DC smart charger and pure sine inverter under the solar controller and fuse block

Since we're building a platform, figured I'd put some space for slide out storage on either side of the propex

Faceplate is removeable (kreg jig) for servicing, as well as just unscrewing the whole platform if needed

Time to build the cabinet, it's going to be super tight fit, but we wanted usable space, and hated the fact that the original went all the way up the window. going with 3 drawers, and then where the water tank is, I'll have a little spice rack

If anyone's used a Kreg, it's a great way to hide screws and still have strong joints (I throw a bead of woodglue in there too after a test fit)

Loosely testing fit for the tank/sink/drains

Pump fits just under the water tank, but remains servicable

Ran the waterfilter on the exterior so cartridge changes are easy, and it tucks behind the drivers seat

First drawer done, removeable facing where spice rack and electronics will be

Finished the 3 drawers with marine slam latches and added the back to the spice rack

We have "Electronics" :-)

The original AW cabinet had the filler for the water tank behind the drivers seat, it was really only possible to fill with a hose. I turned the tank so that I could fill from the top (when in Mexico, I could fill with bottled water if we needed). This presented issues because the filler is welded in pipe, so I had little space to "bend" pvc and end up not ugly. While not ideal, it'll work

We knew the walk-through would be tight, but figured when moving from front to back, a "step over" the fridge would still be easy, so this is our "test" fit.

I decided it's be easy enough to make removeable platform so we can rotate the fridge and open up the walkthrough...

This opens it up, but the idea that when we camp, we put the fridge outside sometimes and if the platform is there, it'd be that much bigger of a step down (with the bed out) for bathroom breaks at night. For now we'll test a few campouts with the fridge the original way (not the below pic)

Rather than buy a counter top, or try and paint nice wood, I decided to design a vinyl wrap and have my buddy from a signshop print it for me. Our Van is named ripple, so we made a ripple/cobblestone graphic

The test fit! WE LOVE IT!

I loved the raw wood look of the edges, and may find a better edging, but because we have kids I went with the iron on plastic in black.

Threw up a metal whiteboard, magnetic bar, and a magazine rack for the kids

And with that..... done!

digthemlows Mon May 17, 2021 1:37 pm

The one thing of note, I knew testing water was going to be a pain, I really had to design everything to fit tight, so "testing" involved loosely putting things together. At one point I put water in the tank and ensure that turning on the pump I could dump water into a bucket from the hose that would eventually fit to the faucet. Once I finally put everything together and tested, I had water squirting from multiple places because it was finally "under pressue" Thankfully I could still get to, and tighten/service the points that had issues. While I'd done a cabinet rebuild in the past, this one was more of a learning experience (because I was trying to do it as right as possible) and I really enjoyed it. I know a lot more about my van, and it's quiet, clean, and not filling with dust (the amount of large holes was insane)

ScottShelley Mon May 17, 2021 5:52 pm

Nice work Doug!

digthemlows Mon May 17, 2021 9:57 pm

ScottShelley wrote: Nice work Doug!

not the quality of building that you do, but I'm proud of this compared to the last one I tried... thanks for inspiration

Schnippzle Tue May 18, 2021 12:18 am

What a great looking van. Good work!

thatbaldwinlife Tue May 18, 2021 6:47 am

Nice work! Love how you are customizing it to fit your family and needs.

dobryan Tue May 18, 2021 7:29 am

Very nice.

You get to make it work for your family based on the experiences you have. Wonderful! :D

valvecovergasket Tue May 18, 2021 8:40 am

great work! i didnt think id like that counter, but seeing it in place in your finished pics i dig it!

that wiring you show at the begining - is that the as-built adventure wagon setup? thats really poorly done :shock:

jAndrew Tue May 18, 2021 8:54 am

Very impressive work! I too didn't think much of that counter at first but seeing it installed I like it.

I at times wonder if there wouldn't be a market for custom interior cabinets for the Vanagon. Way back I built the interior cabinets that went into Gulfstream jets and now own a small furniture and cabinet company. I would buy a ca,per just so I could build the cabinets! Alas, the wife thinks the Doka is enough. Perhaps when one of the other vehicles is gone.

digthemlows Wed May 19, 2021 7:46 am

Thanks everyone, and yeah, the countertop was a "crosses fingers" thing, but we knew we could just print something else. I'm really happy with it. It's also textured vinyl, the kind that car dealers use for huge stickers on the floor, so it's meant to be used....

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