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.


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.


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.


So this was my blank canvas:


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.


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


The primer was flat gray.


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


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


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.


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.


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


This hole will be for the portable AC exhaust:


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


I did my best to remove all the dirt.


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.


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.


69 days left and I have a lot to do.

Up Next: insulation!

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