I think I should lead off with the fact that this is my third van. Three times now I have emptied the interior of a Vanagon and built something I thought to be more functional. This third van, however, came to me as an ASI Riviera that you may remember hearing about in this post. As such, it was already built out as a camper – complete with sink, stove, fridge, and even a thermostat-controlled propane heater. So why on earth would you gut it all and start over?!?
Well… I think from the time I got this van I knew changes were coming. To begin with I have an Engel fridge from my last van and it runs on my solar setup – so the fridge came out and I slid my Engel, somewhat awkwardly, into that space. The heater, while an excellent idea in theory, seldom seemed to work. So, for the year and a half that I have had this van, I have not used said heater. The is point the only thing that runs on propane is the stove – which I have used numerous times, but I have a Origo 3000 marine alcohol stove that is a fraction of the weight of the propane tank. To boot, removing the propane means I no longer have a tank hanging low under my van, effectively increasing my ground clearance by about 4 inches!
Now I had a kitchen cabinet that was underutilized, and come to find out slightly rotten. My father had laid down some linoleum over the carpet to ensure easy clean up of dog hair and beach sand, a great idea if it wasn’t for slight water intrusions that was keeping the carpet damp from below. When I pulled up the linoleum to begin this revamp, I found a significant amount of dark colored mold, and since the carpet ran under the cabinets and seat box, the wood on the bases of these were also moldy.
When you are at this point in the process, I believe you have already passed the point of return. Out came all of the cabinets, the z-bed and it’s base, and all the carpet and padding. The carpet came up like wet paper, tearing easily as I tried to remove it. Under all these layers I found a floor riddled with various, and many seemingly randomly located, screw holes. There were also two 1 3/8″ holes and one 3″ hole under that cabinet, through which water, propane, and ventilation was ran.
Enter Eric, a friend I have made through the Vanagon community, a pipe fitter by trade, but a friendly and helpful human by nature. When I posted to the Vanagon owner facebook page, of which there are many, Eric reached out and said to bring it by and he would butter them up. That weekend he did just that. We spent the majority of the day out in the garage as he sanded, fabricated, welded, and ground down the beads. If not for him, I probably would have covered the big holes with patches of sheet metal along with some sealant and rivets. So glad this got done the right way!
During the week, on a somewhat dry afternoon, I ran out and hit the bare metal spots with a wire wheel, top and bottom, and then primer inside and rubberized undercoat on the underside. This past weekend I took advantage of the one full day of dry weather in the forecast, and the warmest at a balmy 50°f, and laid down a coat of truck bed liner. This definitely cleaned up the appearance but should also add a little more protection and sound deadening.
Lastly, this week my order of Havelock Wool insulation showed up, quite promptly I might add. Sadly, until I get the window seals out and replaced, the source of my rotten carpet and cabinets, I can’t put the insulation or the flooring in. Hope to work this out soon. Stay tuned!