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DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics
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mustard675
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:58 pm    Post subject: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

I wanted to replace my mirrors but couldn’t justify the cost of the commercially available “truck” mirrors. While I am waiting for parts to complete other jobs on the Vanagon I decided to try to make my own “west coast” mirrors. I’ll try my best to detail the process and I took pictures along the way however I’m not good at capturing every single step. My goal was to make these for under $100. I came pretty close. Costs are all rounded up to the nearest dollar for simplicity. Total came out to be $129.

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These are the mirrors I decided on based on their size and price. I also wanted a convex mirror for blind spots.
12303 by GROTE Split Mirror, Stainless Steel $17 each
12333 by GROTE Split Mirror, Stainless Steel $14 each

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Here is an assortment of material I needed. I purchased everything at Home Depot.

Stainless steel 3/8” threaded rod to make the mounting screws $9
4x Stainless steel acorn nuts in 3/8” $1 each
4x Stainless steel wing nuts in 3/8” $1 each
1 pack of two Stainless steel adjustable floor guide $10
2x Stainless steel hinges. I ended up returning these and going with a larger stainless steel hinge due to clearance for the acorn/wing nuts $10 each
Not pictured are stainless steel lock washers. $2

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Purchased these off of Amazon:
Stainless steel Hex socket screws $8
Stainless steel Rivet Nuts $7

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To make the frame I used 1/2" EMT conduit. $3 for an eight or ten foot section.
I purchased the bending tool for this job and then returned it. It was $35 but I’m not including that in the final cost.

I used the bender on a test piece to measure how much material is needed for the bend. I would have liked to make a bend with smaller radius however doing so by hand caused the conduit to kink. I tried filling the conduit with sand prior to bending with slightly better, but still kinked, results. The bender was very easy and consistent. Once I knew how much material was needed for the bend (it makes about a 6” radius bend) I measured how far off the door I wanted the mirrors to be. I decided to keep them tucked as close to the body as possible to match the factory location.

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Test fit to make sure the mirrors have enough room to tilt through the frame.

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After you cut it to length, smash the ends in the vise to get a surface to bolt to. You need to make sure you match the angle of the end to the angle at which you will be mounting the frame to on the door. The bottom mount will be roughly horizontal, while the top mount is at about a 45 degree angle.

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Here you can see the mounting hardware I made using the threaded rod and acorn/wing nuts. I also drilled the floor guides for 3/8” and marked the hinges for cutting. I used an angle grinder fitting with a cutting wheel to cut the rough shape of the hinges. I then used the bench grinder to finalize the shape, round off the corners, and deburr the edges.

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This process nicked and scuffed the nice polished finish of the hinges unfortunately. So if you look closely you’ll see those marks. Not ideal but I’m also not about to sit there polishing the mounts to get them back to being shiny. On to the next step.

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Test fit the top. I ended up purchasing some stainless steel lock washers to ensure the nuts don’t back off.

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Test fit the bottom.

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Entire assembly on the bench. Here you can see the 45% angle the top needs in order to match the door frame.

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Now there’s no turning back. Clearly the most terrifying part of the job is drilling into your Vanagon. I mounted the entire assembly and then marked with a sharpie where to drill. There is actually a lot of room behind that sheet metal so no worries about hitting anything. I used Blue RTV on the inside of the Rivet Nuts and then secured those using an M6 bolt, a spacer, and an impact wrench until it seated. Clean the excess RTV off.

The bottom mount uses the factory locations and bolts.

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View from the back.

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View from the front. Still debating whether or not I should paint the frame. It shouldn’t rust and everything else is stainless. I am also considering adding a pivot point to the top horizontal frame rail in order to allow for movement in case something were to impact the mirrors. As it is right now there is no frame movement allowed because of that top 45% mounting point which I did not account for. Very sturdy but there is a risk in damaging the door frame if you get unlucky.

The total cost came out to be $129 rounded up for the pair. Compared to $350 I’m pleased. I think they turned out really well.

Here’s a good link (http://www.vanagonhacks.com/2015/01/truck-mirrors-on-the-vanagon/) summarizing what is available to you commercially. Of course these are direct bolt on and depending on how you value your time may be the better way to go. Just sharing my little side project. I think I have about 3 nights into these, about 2-3 hours per night at a leisurely pace drinking a bunch of beer.
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campism
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:13 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

Good job! Very enterprising and a positive result for the project. I installed west coast mirrors on my old Chevy panel truck and enjoyed the improved view but always regretted the drilling so I try not to do too much of that on the Vanagon.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:24 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

Very nice job!

Applause
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agon.parts
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

KILLER!
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Chainsaw
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:03 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

My god, you've got more mirror than my old needle nose kenworth had! Nicely done!
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:08 am    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

Nice bit of DIY there!

Keep an eye on your stainless bits, I've had problems with it starting to rust where it has been cut/ground. Something about the stainless getting contaminated in the process.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:46 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

I like them. Good job.

Here's mine:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:20 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

I really appreciate when people come up with uncommon uses for common objects.

Very well done!

I also appreciate those who take the time to document, photograph and share what they create or how they do a task.
I KNOW the time it takes to document and write up the process.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

BTW, the conduit WILL rust. I'd seriously consider a layer of paint.

Dave
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:36 am    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

djkeev wrote:
BTW, the conduit WILL rust. I'd seriously consider a layer of paint.

Dave


Thanks Dave. When I was collecting the material for this project I stopped at three different electrical supply outlets looking for stainless conduit. It exists, just no one carries it near me. Did some research, and as you said, I only have a few years of protection (at best) with just the galvanized coating. Probably less on the cut/drilled ends. I'll remove the mirrors and paint the frames.

Borg wrote:
Keep an eye on your stainless bits, I've had problems with it starting to rust where it has been cut/ground. Something about the stainless getting contaminated in the process.


Fingers crossed.. The heat generated from cutting/grinding discolored the stainless metal a bit. Hopefully it didn't change the rust prevention properties, only the hardness. Worst case I'll dab it with some petroleum jelly I guess. Thanks for the feedback!
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

Very Cool !
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:54 am    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

mustard675 wrote:
Worst case I'll dab it with some petroleum jelly I guess.


actually, don't jelly or wax the SS. SS steel stays stainless because of the oxidation? it has naturally, therefore, needs to be open to the elements. At least that is what my sailboat repair book says.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:56 am    Post subject: Re: DIY "truck" or "west coast" mirrors for the Vanagon - pics Reply with quote

nice job,
here's a pic of my brothers van (in the middle) with service van "truck mirrors" we sourced from the local junkyard/U-pull-it place.
so they are out there still.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/923077.jpg

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