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Custom rear cabinet/closet install
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sDeLuca
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Joined: May 10, 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:38 pm    Post subject: Custom rear cabinet/closet install Reply with quote

Drawing on the inspiration of fellow Sambaite's projects, I decided it was time to make that seemingly useless rear closet into a usable storage area and home for my new Espar D2 diesel heater. This is not a complete how to, but rather a basic rundown of my idea and execution.

I have never liked the access to the rear closet and always imagined that some shelves would be extremely handy in place of a giant vertical storage spot. In addition I wanted to install my heater somewhere other than the bench seat as that is where I store my longer sized camping items (rollup table, chairs, jack, tools etc) rather than the "blackhole" aka rear closet.

I embarked on this project with my father as he has far more woodworking expertise than myself. First things first the closet had to come out. No need to show that. Lengthy but simple process with the Bently. Once out, I created some cardboard templates for a sliding door design I had seen once here on the samba. I considered getting a stock fridge door, but decided that the swing out action of that door would create access issues when gear was loaded in the back or people on the bed. However I wanted to keep as much of a stock look as possible, so I ordered some gray laminate and trim from GW.

Once we had measured out the size of the hole required for the sliding doors I cut the opening using a custom jig and my hand router. Then the groove for the molding was cut using a groove router bit. I have some pics of the tools that I will post later. The molding was installed.

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For the doors themselves I used sheets of masonite my dad had lying around. This was covered with the laminate first, then cut to shape and the edges painted.

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Simple aluminium tracks were purchased in which the doors could slide.

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Next step was to design a system for the doors to slide in the aluminium tracks. We had blocks of high density polyethylene that would be perfect for a smooth sliding action. The strips were cut on a band saw and the channels for the masonite doors created on the table saw.

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Four strips total for bottom and top of each door in the tracks.

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The joint at the end acts as a stopper in the track, so the doors can not slide past one another.

The doors were inserted into the polyethylene sliders with some light tapping and a thin bead of silicon caulking.

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The doors in place. The handles are wood with gray paint. There is another polyethylene piece that acts as a stopper on the lower left. It can be removed and the doors slide back out. The right side has a painted wooden strip that lines the entire door length to stop the doors from sliding forward.

Next we designed and cut some shelves for inside the closet. The bottom shelf would be a false shelf covering the Espar with a little trap door for easy access and a bit of secret storage. Pics to come on these.

With the rear closet/cabinet combo complete I set out to start the heater install in the base of the closet. I knew I needed to cut through the floor of the van and wanted to do this while the cabinet was still out. Using the cabinet as a guide I again created cardboard templates to find the spot for the Espar exhaust and combustion air tubes.

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The next part was a bit scary.

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Once I install the mounting plate for the Espar, the exterior of the hole will be sealed and painted with POR15. Before the heater install I had to get cabinet unit back in.

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You can see the hole drilled for the heater hot air exhaust with the grill mount installed.

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Close up showing hole in base of van and heat exhaust from closet into vehicle.

Lastly the rest of the van parts were installed and the new cabinet doors mounted for a test run. If you look closely you can see the thermostat mounted at the upper right of the sliding doors for the Espar.

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This weekend I will be installing the espar. There will be pics of the hookup and some interiors shots of the closet to come.
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andy syncro-nutz
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you fitting a Air intake to circulate the heat?
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rubbachicken
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice work this far
i'm looking forward to seeing it finished
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Saguache
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks great, interested to hear how those sliders work out after being vibrated for a while. Very good looking work.
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sDeLuca
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is not shown here but there is a fresh air intake hole drilled in the back of the closet that pulls air from under the "secret" storage area under the rear cabinet from the interior of the van. This should roughly mimic the recirculation that is best for the espar heaters. It also means I can't stow cargo in that area anymore either.
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campism
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did a similar mod and will soon be redoing it to lower the bottom edge so it is flush with the mattress top, increasing the height of the sliding doors to improve access to the bottom sections of the closet. I'd be interested to hear about your door's face mount bottom track and the effect of intrusion into sleeping space with sharp edges and corners.
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danfromsyr
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Joined: March 01, 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great job and hopefully I'll get a chance to do this mod soon..

I have an idea to make the original front door into a small item medicine cabinet..
also to add a raised floor (instead of the funky tin VW used) to allow long items to slide in from the back hatch w/o catching on the closet contents..


Should add a link to this other great thread on custom rear cabinets.
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=416764
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GBA 88West LA
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

and thats how you do it, super nice work Applause Applause
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SteelB12
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice. Jealous
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bump this topic back up with this post that came across the http://gerry.vanagon.com/ newsgroup

Geneva wrote:
From: Geneva Saint-Amour
Subject: Closet mods- pictures

Link to pictures of closet mod on westie.

http://www.picupine.com/aaa40adx

Geneva
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*odd? pics can be finikie but can click to view...
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