Van Conversion Prep work – Monotonous, but Necessary

Before starting the fun parts, I had to prepare the van for the build. This meant fixing existing rust, preventing future rust, sealing any leaks, and cutting any large holes that I’d need.

The van came with wall panels, half a partition, and a floor. I removed these first.

wp-1453547582854.jpg

I found fiberglass insulation on one side of the van. I removed this as well.

There was felt-like stuff under the plywood floor. It was a pain to remove. I couldn’t even fully get it off without removing some paint.

wp-1453547582855.jpg

I let my OCD get the best of me and I had to repaint a third of the floor before I realized I stripped it to metal by scrubbing too hard.

wp-1453546354003.jpg

So this was my blank canvas:

wp-1451805592292.jpg

To fix and prevent rust, I brushed loose rust off with a wire brush, sanded, and painted. Fortunately, I only had slight surface rust. I used Rust-Oleum Primer and Rust-Oleum Semi-gloss white protective enamel. The paint actually blended much better than expected. I used a combination of the spray and brush for hard to reach places.

Cleaning is no fun.

wp-1453546354787.jpg

Paint fumes are no fun either. I wore a respirator.

wp-1453546350484.jpg

The primer was flat gray.

wp-1453546363335.jpg

A lot of metal was exposed from this tear as well as dozens of screw holes.

wp-1453547332368.jpg

So I covered them all with paint and I’ll hope they don’t rust.

wp-1453546143803.jpg

I needed to cut 3 vent holes and 1 hole for the AC exhaust on the floor. I cut these at this point because it would be much harder to cut them after the floor and insulation are installed. It also gave me the opportunity to rust-proof the exposed metal edges. Placement of these took a lot of planning and forethought.

wp-1453546360332.jpg

Here’s one of three vent holes. I used a sawed 4″ PVC pipe as a template. The little ledges are for a 2″x4″ PVC pipe (the width of the floor will be 2″) to be glued to. Take note of the bits of felt still stuck on the floor.

wp-1453546362387.jpg

It’ll kind of fit like this, except with a longer pipe:

wp-1453546354337.jpg

This hole will be for the portable AC exhaust:

wp-1453549071896.jpg

I also had to cut a hole for the Fan-Tastic fan. I made a cardboard template for this.

wp-1453546348246.jpg

wp-1453546375589.jpg

Went ahead and installed the fan at this point. I bought this model because it can pull air in or blow air out. It seems really well made and easy to maintain. All the connections are easy to access and the screen easily comes off for cleaning. Amazon link: Fan-tastic Vent New 1250

wp-1453546180784.jpg

Butyl Putty was the primary seal. One roll was plenty and I had some left over. This is a must for installing the Fan-Tastic fan. It was easy to work with and I didn’t have any leaks. Amazon  link: Camco 25003 Universal Vent Installation Kit with Putty Tape

wp-1453546181601.jpg

Bolting it in was a challenge with one person. I used vice grips as my second pair of hands.

wp-1453546180778.jpg

Dicor was the secondary sealant. I prefer this over silicone. It doesn’t crack and it’s designed for this application. Putting it on in the winter was bit tough because it has to be a little warm for it to do the self leveling. Eventually it did self-level, but it took a little longer. Amazon link: Dicor EPDM Rubber Roof Lap Sealant, 10.3 oz, White 501LSW-1

wp-1453546180777.jpg

The floor was riveted down with several rivets. I patched the with bondo. I was pretty sloppy with it.

wp-1453546350357.jpg

There was some rust on the roof seams inside that concerned me. It even looked like someone tried to patch it before.

wp-1453546358493.jpg

The best thing to do would be to weld it, but I don’t weld. I sealed it with Dicor.

wp-1453546359836.jpg

I noticed how dirty the footsteps were underneath. Removing these was a bit of a struggle. wp-1453546373209.jpg

These tabs have to be removed, but they happen to be impossible to remove. I found a tiny screw and screwed into them until they popped off.

wp-1453546373218.jpg

I did my best to remove all the dirt.

wp-1453546123753.jpg

Under the driver step, I found puddle of water. There is a drain hole here, but the van leans forward when it’s empty. I might drill another hole in the front.

wp-1453546374854.jpg

Finally, the last bit of prep work I did was put wood putty in the rivet holes of the original floor. I’ll be reusing it. Seemed like a good spot to have floor time after all this work.

wp-1453546366005.jpg

69 days left and I have a lot to do.

Up Next: insulation!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate Links. HurriedYear.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.