Vandit - A Build Thread - 2013 E-Series Camper Van/4x4 Build


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2013 Ford E250 STD Cargo

Van Name: Vandit

Most Current Picture & Video:
Picture from 10/2021 (Up to date for thread)

Most Current Picture

Video from 7/2021 (Not up to date for thread)

***This build thread was started and mostly documented on another forum starting in the fall of 2020. I decided to transfer it to here just in case anyone is interested in it.***
***This may lead to some things referencing other posts that do not exist here***

So it begins again! This is our 3rd/4th vehicle build but first van so should be interesting. This thread will be used to help document our process, as well as hopefully get some collective knowledge working through any issues we come across. I figured I would start by giving some background, and then diving into the actual plan and build.​
We have officially caught the van bug and decided to really jump headfirst into it! It started about 2-3 years ago, but here's some background for how we got here.

About 7 years ago I had built out a 2003 Land Rover Discovery II (Build Link). I basically did everything you could to it including 35” Nitto Trail Grapplers, front and rear air lockers, custom axles, custom suspension, custom bumpers, and the list goes on. It was a very off-road capable vehicle and got us to lots of cool places, but the reliability of it especially as it got more and more miles on it started to worry us. So we made the jump and sold it and bought a 2013 Toyota Tacoma. That started a pretty quick build process including lift, tires, racks, interior, and camping mods, etc.. Then we took it on our maiden voyage to Bend, OR. Long story short we fell in love with Bend and transitioned all our efforts into finding a way to move. Camping and traveling were put on hold for a while. We were eventually able to make the move and get established in Bend but had sacrificed most of our travel time to this endeavor. So flash forward to the end of 2019 and early 2020 where we decided it was time to start our next project and get back what we had been missing.
So we spent the next 6 months doing research and test driving every option out there. We tried a 4x4 sprinter, which was nice, but the initial cost, cost of repairs, and the limited 4 wheel drive, and the limited availability kicked it off our list. We had a similar experience with the Ford Transit, especially since their AWD system seemed like it would be a big limiting factor. During this test drive period, I happened across an ad for a Sportsmobile at a local used car dealership. All though out of our price range it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a quick test drive to see if it really would be right. Well after driving it and getting to see how the Penthouse top worked in person we were officially hooked! So we began our search for a Sportsmobile. After lots of searching, we kept coming across the same issues either it was out of our price range, or we would be paying for lots of things we felt needed to be changed immediately. So we shifted again and started looking for some good starting platforms.
After months of searching and numerous deals failing we finally found a low miles 2013 Ford E250 Cargo in California. Unfortunately for us with a global pandemic (July of 2020), it wasn’t the easiest thing to actually get it, but we finally got it with only a few surprises considering we bought it sight unseen! So we found ourselves happy new owners of a van with potential!

The Goal:
Our goal is to build a van that is capable, reliable, and very sturdy for years to come. Something we can feel comfortable in exploring forest roads of the pacific northwest while also making it possible to sleep in friends and families' driveways while we are visiting. To have sleeping for two and our dog with the future option of sleeping/driving for 4 (just in case we have any friends or family coming). This will be our go-to rig for multi-week excursions as well as day trips to the lakes and mountains.

The Inspiration:
Given my field of work, I figured it would be a good idea to try to sort through some of the problems and ideas I had by laying them out on the computer first. I may have gone a little overboard especially since I had my modeling pretty well done before we even had a van! Now, these were more for basic ideas, and not perfectly to scale, but I tried to get it relatively accurate using the Ford builder book and some basic knowledge I had gathered from my hours of research. The renderings below are meant for basic concepts and to show some of the form and finish.

Exterior Front Render

Exterior Rear Render

Interior Perspective

Interior ISO

Interior ISO with Van Body

Mechanical/Electrical ISO

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Don't hold your breath, because it's going to be a process! Since we are doing the work ourselves, and are not working with endless amounts of money it will be a staged build, over a few years till it’s mostly done with little mods I'm sure for many more to come. Hopefully, the plan is to have most done in the next 3-5 Years.​
Things Done
Things to Do
Things No Longer doing
Basic Stages:
Stage 1: Paint!!
Stage 2: Main Interior Build
Stage 3: 4x4 Conversion
Stage 4: Exterior Mods (Bumpers Racks, etc.)
Stage 5: Possibly Poptop (SMB)
Stage 6: (I’m sure there will be more…)

Break down by section of our plan/build in no particular order:

Exterior Modification:
Drivetrain Modifications
  • 4x4 Conversion
  • Possible upgrade to 2.5” Shock with adjustable remote reservoir
  • Possible Hydraulic Bump Stops
  • 35”-37" tires (undecided on brand/pattern)
  • 17” Method 704 Matte Black Wheels or 17" Traiready TRR-HD17-87
  • Tom Woods Driveshafts
  • NV271
  • Front Ox Locker air actuated
  • Rear OX Locker Cable Driven
Interior Modifications
Cockpit Modifications
Insulation/Climate Control Modification:
Electrical System Modifications
Electrical Loads Interior
  • LED Slim Puck Lights in Ceiling on Custom Dimmers
  • LED Undermount Strip Lighting Throughout On Custom Dimmers
  • ISOtherm 85 Drawer Fridge Freezer
  • Single Burner Induction Stove
  • 12V sockets throughout
  • 120v Outlets hooked to an inverter
  • Shurflo 3GPM Water Pump
  • Water Heater
Electrical Loads Exterior
  • Baja Designs S2 Sport (Rear Back-Up High Mount)
  • Baja Designs Squadron Sport Angled (Camp Side Scene Light)
  • On-Board Air System
  • Baja Designs Squadron SAE (Front Fog Lights)
  • Baja Designs Squadron Sport Flush (Rear Bumper Lights)
  • Baja Designs Rock Lights
  • 12,000LBS Warn Winch
  • sPod Switch Pod from U-Joint Off Road
Plumbing System Modification
  • 21GAL Freshwater Tank
  • 5GAL Grey Water tank for sink
  • 14x18 StarStar Undermount Sink Workstation Sink
  • Guzzle Stealth Water Filter
  • Rear Exterior Shower Set Up
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The Build Begins!
- Almost immediately we started ripping things apart. The first thing to go was the no window side doors. I found some passenger doors on craigslist in decent shape for $150 so we jumped on that deal and made the switch! The first step to decreepify done!

- The next thing we did was get lined up with our now buddy Zach with Vert INC paint. This was pretty urgent since when we received the van it had white house paint rolled on over old decal residue. Still not sure why they painted it over rather than goo goning it, but at least it's gone now. Zach took on the big task of stripping down the van, pulling the windows, and getting it all painted to the perfect color we wanted. A dark Olive green! We also got the lower rocker panels Bedliner for aesthetics and to protect them from rocks and rust. While at his shop he offered to cut out the holes for our new CRL awning windows, and we are happy we let him do that. That is for sure a nerve-wracking experience! It became especially nerve-wracking when we went to install the second window and we couldn't get it to fit right. After some trial and error, we figured out the second window was missing a seal. So we temporarily installed it without one so we could get it home from paint and start on our interior stuff while we sorted out the seal with CRL.

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- Once we got it home it was time to rip it apart even more. The first thing I did was get the factory stereo out and our new Kenwood Excelon DNX996XR head unit in. I ordered it from Crutchfield, and with all their stuff it was a relatively quick and easy process.

-I took the seats out to prep for flooring and insulation, so while those were out I went ahead and installed our Cover King Genuine leather seat covers we got from Costco. They feel very nice and can say I am very happy with how they fit! I also got our passenger seat swivel installed. Thanks again to forum member Ray 1der!

Side by Side comparison

-The next thing we got done was some sound deadening on the front doors. Tried to get as much of the rear panel as I could reach covered, and a complete coving of the inner panel.

-After that we did a complete strip and clean of the floor, filling all holes and removing everything in prep for a full coating of POR 15.

-Two coats of POR 15 later we had a nice solid black floor from the firewall to rear doors.

-Next up was starting on Sound-deadening the sidewalls and ceiling. Again we covered the outer panel as much as we could and the inner panel 100%. Might be overkill, but figured we’ll only do it once (Hopefully).

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-After getting a good start on the sound deadening we decided it was time to get our insulation, so we headed to DIYvan in Hood River. That drive was a struggle since we went when all of Oregon was on fire and blanketed in hazardous levels of smoke.

-After we got most of that done I started on laying out and installing rivnuts for our floor structure. I didn't put in a ton, but enough to help suck the wood structure down to the insulation.

Tape lines for where the Plywood will fall​

-The next step was starting on the lowest layer of insulation. We are filling all the grooves with Minicell foam from recommendations of other forums as well as a blog post by Faroutride. Measuring and cutting each oddly shaped valley is a slow process.

Front Layer 1 of insulation

-After about 3 weeks we finally got the window seal from CRL and got the window re-installed and then it worked perfectly!

-Next I started on rerouting all the factory wiring harnesses. I followed the lead of a few posts I have seen on the sportsmobile forums for this including posts by cthayn and skinny. After the wiring harness was rerouted I stuffed the cavity with Thinsulate as well as resecured as much of the loom as I could.

-The next step was to finally finish off all the sound deadening. Again I know it's probably unnecessary, but I know I'll be happy to know there isn’t any more I could have done.

You can see this in the later pictures​

-After that I went ahead and started on my next layer of floor insulation. A thinner layer of Minicell.

Couldn't find any pictures:b7:​

-I used the top layer of minicell foam as my template for my Thinsulate TAI 1547 layer that will be between the two layers of foam for some additional R-value. This came and the recommendation for Hein at DIYvan.

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-After this I began the tedious process of laying out and cutting my wood floor substrate. I used ½” high-quality baltic birch scribed everything to the edges as well as back beveled to make sure it fits tight and flat. I used mending plants to join each piece together as well as 1/4x20 stainless steel bolts to go to the Rivnuts. After my wood was cut and holes were drilled I went back layer by layer and glued each section down till I got back up to my wood layer.

-After getting the wood all bolted down and mended together I mixed up some Bondo to fill all the holes and smooth out a few transitions. I also took some gap filler and filled in any small gaps that I had around the edges.

-After that was installed it was time to start the floor install. Starting by rough-cutting the shape and then gluing down starting with the front of the wood and working our ways backward using a heat gun to bend it at the edges.

-After letting the glue dry for the night on the back half I came back the next day to do the front. Using the heat gun again to get it contoured around the bumps and curves. I added an extra .25 insulation for the transition between the plywood and front. I also got to finally get those seats back installed!

-After installing we came back and did some trimming of edges, scribing all trim pieces to new build-ups, and finally getting things back together. The only thing left to do is add some metal angle edging at the back and side doors and the floor will be done!

-Although it would have been better to plan ahead and not install the seat covers till we had our seat heaters I was too excited to see how they fit and jumped the gun. So once we received our package I went ahead and took apart the seats and then reinstalled them with the heated seats. I put the switch location nice and tidy on the side of the seat.

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- After getting the wheels painted black we took Vandit out for a drive and finally got to see it out of the garage for a bit which was nice!

-The next thing on the list to finish the floor was getting the threshold trimmed out. So I picked up some aluminum angle and went to work. This turned into a much more lengthy process than hoped since I had some mishaps when painting it, causing me to have to repaint it approximately four times with one full re-sand to bare metal. Now that it is done I am happy with how it came out. The floor is officially done!

Roughed out


-Next, we ordered some replacement mirrors as we were never really a fan of the towing mirrors, plus they were super scratched up. They just seem to be much more fitting to the van.

-We wanted to have some removable mats for the front but had to get a little creative to make them work, but I think we found a solution. Since the Husky liner mats are intended to be used with carpet they have nibs on the back to help secure them in the carpet. Since we decided to do the continuous rubber flooring I had to take all those off with a Dremel. After getting all those off I installed some marine-grade black snaps to help secure the mats, and so far so good! If those don't end up holding too well I will switch them out for marine grade Twist Lock Fasteners.

The backside of Husky Liner before

After the start of Dremeling


Had to use a heat gun some to remold the mats to the new floor

Final Product​
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A few more additions

-Knowing we will be adding rear curtains eventually and with the visibility already pretty poor we made the call to add an always-on backup camera. I found a mirror replacement monitor and camera kit and got it all hooked up. It's pretty sweet! Not only does it have the rear camera it also has a dash camera and even has adjustable parking lines when put into reverse.

-After having the van sitting for a while and staring at the mix-matched tires with sidewalls bulging we made the call that we need to replace those before really going on a trip, so I did some research and read that we could probably level out the front of the van if installed some Moog cc880 coils up front. So once those were on we headed down to discount to get ourselves some new bigger better tires.

-Now Vandit is looking like something special!

-We went ahead and tinted all the windows to match. They aren’t super dark, but that's what curtains are for! We did do a high-level ceramic coating to all the windows that will hopefully help with the summer heat. We didn't do the windshield, but we may eventually come back and do that at a later date. The pictures aren't the best, but it will have to do because it's back in the garage for the start of the interior wall panels.

Wall Subframe

-Got started on the interior wall panels. I decided to use some inspiration from cthayn build and chose to add some framing at the base between the floor and pinch weld, at the middle support and top support.

Testing the wall panel curve

-For the lower framing member I doubled up two pieces of ½” Baltic birch (glued and pin nailed together). I cut them to size ensuring a tight fit between the floor and the pinch weld. After getting them positioned about 1/16”-1/32” proud of the pinch weld I drilled a few pilot holes, painted them to prevent rust, and put a few screws in just to make sure they don't wiggle loose over time.

-For the center supports I cut strips of ½” Baltic birch and attached them to the inner metal framing of the van using 1/4x20 rivnuts which I drilled and painted to prevent possible rust. I recessed the heads of the flathead bolts so they won't interfere with the wall panels. After doing an initial mock-up of the wall curve I decided I needed to build this out more as the curve was too much on the lower section of the wall. So I glued and pin nailed some additional ½” Baltic birch blocks that will become my attachment points.

-For the top supports I doubled up some strips of ½” Baltic birch with a 30° bevel on it to try to plain in with the upper frame member of the van. I repeated the same rivnut process to attach them.

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Wall Panel Start

-I then started on the window boxes starting with the driver side. I used ½” Baltic birch to build a frame that was scribed to the van body. After getting the back scribed I used a small cut off of ¼” Baltic birch which I will be using for the wall panels to find the wall curve. After getting the window boxes roughed out I pulled them out and glue and screwed them together trimming up any remaining parts.

-I then went to the passenger side and repeated the process. The one difference on this side is I had to create more of a curve horizontally as I am trying to curve the wall panel in both directions so it planes in nicely with the 60/40 door pillar which sticks out further than the rest of the wall.

-After getting the window boxes done I started on templating for wall panels. Starting with the driver side I cut and scribed multiple pieces of cardboard together to get a rough template. After getting the rough template together I traced that template to a clean full-length cardboard piece since I was worried the pieced-together template wouldn't get me accurate enough cut lines.

-After the template was done I cut out my wall panel. I am using ¼” Baltic birch which proved to be a little problematic. As you can see the wall panel did not want to conform to the van body.

- I then pulled the panel back out and did some shallow kerf cuts in both directions to the entire backside of the panel. This helped a lot! I drilled out holes and used standard screws as temporary holders until I can install the ¼” x20 threaded inserts. I am using some aluminum finish washers and black coated stainless steel ¼”x20 bolts to attach all the panels.

-After getting panel #1 on the driver side in I repeated the process on the passenger side. Like mentioned before I curved the panel and ran it all the way to the door seal which should allow me to tuck the fabric into the door seal once I do the upholstery. There is also a bump-out that pretty much runs flush with the wall panel (the black section in the picture) which I plan on running the foam and fabric straight over to give a smooth panel look. I also will add a small return piece to close up the gap on the bottom side near the door.

-I then went back over to the driver side for panel #2. I left a ⅛” gap between the two panels to allow for the fabric to roll around the edge and create a smooth transition. I also had to add some additional blocking to ensure that the curves of each panel would line up together. Pictures look like the joint line is crooked, but I promise it's all straight.

-I then went to the ceiling. For the ceiling, I am using the same material and bolts. So I started with the nutsert process. There is a centerline slot on each cross member that I enlarged to insert the nutsert in and worked my way back. I then drilled the matching holes in the 4x8 ¼” Baltic birch and mounted it up in the van. This way nice not to have any scribing to do!

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-Next up was the small section of roof in the rear that the 8’ sheet couldn't reach. I am going to try to join the two ceiling panels as one using some connection blocks and then upholstery it as one so there is no seam. The connection worked well as I used inserts in the blocks and bolts through the panels which will get buried under foam and fabric.. at least that's the plan for now.

-Next thing I did was drill out all the holes of where I am going to add bolts and inserts. Most will be into the wood substructure, but a few will be into the van metal which will require a nutsert. Probably have more attachment than needed, but I don't want any squeaks, so I figured more might help with that. (No pictures)

-I started off by cutting out the passenger side window. I decided to cut the window opening out in place in the van. I did this by first using a drill to cut a hole for the jigsaw and then worked my way close to the window box and finished it off with a trim bit router. Still need to clean up my bottom line but it's nice to have some more light coming back into the van!

-You may notice that I left the wall panel higher than the window box. This was because we plan on the bottom mounting some day/night shades and this helps create a pocket so they won't be visible when not deployed.

-I also wasn't happy with how my 2nd ceiling panel was fitting so I pulled it back out and rescribed it to get a tighter fit. This will end up getting covered, but it was bugging me knowing that it wasn't better.

-Then on to the driver side window.

Rough Jig Saw Cut

After Using the Trim Bit.
-After getting both the windows cut I started on the process of adding all the nutserts/ threaded inserts for all the panels. Up until now I have had most of the attachments using wood screws, which works, but figured a machine bolt would work better.

Bottom attachment bolts

The backside of the Driver Panel after all holes have been drilled.​

-Then the Passenger side panel was all installed using the 1/4x20 Black Oxide Stainless Steel bolts and a combo of flat aluminum washers on the center row and a finish cup washer on the rest. As of right now, I am liking this combo. My thought was the middle row is taking the majority of the stress, and having a larger diameter solid washer will have less of a chance of pulling through the wood, and for the cup washers, 90% of them will get covered by either a trim piece or a cabinet.

Flat 1" Washer on the middle row and smaller cup washer on bottom and top.​

-I did the same treatment of adding inserts for the connection between the panel and window box. These bolts and inserts are much smaller and I believe are 6-32 thread.

-After getting those inserts installed I pulled the window box back out to install some brackets with inserts for the window trim ring to connect to. My plan is to try to make the trim ring have no visible bolts/screws since I will already have a few on the other surfaces.

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Transition Pieces

-Next up on the list was to tackle the transition piece from ceiling panel to wall panel. This was a part that I have been somewhat dreading as I Had been struggling with how to make it look clean and intentional. After lots of tests, I think I landed on a good option.

-Starting with the driver side I used a piece of ½” Baltic Birch (BB) strip with a 30ish° bevel cut that will be tucked between the ceiling panel. Then I used a strip of ¼” BB to create the drop piece. Once that was mocked up it became apparent how much the van's body is curving in every direction. This prompted me to feel like I needed to create some more symmetry. So I marked out a level line from the floor to create my bottom edge. I then took a small section of ¼” BB and used it to fill the void between the trim board and van body. This again was obviously scribed to the van's body. To give me a solid attachment point for this bottom plate I attached some blocks of ½” BB with glue and pin nails. This gave me a good chunk for some screws to bite into. Hopefully, this all makes sense in what I am describing as I didn't take pictures of every step. This is probably one of the most complicated ways to do this, but I hope in the end it is worth the extra effort.

-After getting the driver side pretty much done, besides some finish touches, I jumped over to the passenger side to start the same process. This side was a little trickery as I am trying to allow enough room for electrical components such as the Victron BMV, the inverter switch, and the heater controller. In addition to these components, I also need the create a flat surface for a strip light recess I am putting in over the 60/40 doors.

-I started with the same ½” BB with a 30ish° bevel cut and the same ¼” BB strip of the drop piece. I repeated the process of trying to create a flat symmetrical line to the floor.

-I used some cardboard to start planning what I wanted to do for the electrical section of the trim piece. I am planning on having it be a 3” square bump-out that can then die back into the angled section.

-So after mocking up the transition piece and trying to avoid it since I knew it would be a pain I finally started on building it. The cardboard mock-up was a great starting point, but only really got me so far, so it ended up taking me much longer than I would like to admit to getting figured out and getting done. This will be a separate piece that will be attached using threaded inserts to make it easier to open up and access everything if needed. That is still to come, but at least now it is somewhat together still needs the end cap, threaded insert attachments, and final assembly before upholstery.

-After that, I went to the rear door ceiling transition and created a little shelf that is squared up off the floor. Again this is using ¼” BB with nutserts for attachment. This will house two puck lights that will be on a separate switch from the rest for our bed lights.

- I also went back and got my end cap put on for the over door electrical section.

-List of things to do before upholstery is getting shorter, and I really can't wait for that! I still need to check the fitment of the front stock headliner, build a front overhead shelf, finish out the transition, make transition pieces to the stock headliner, build door boxes and panels, disassemble and do final assembly on transition pieces, cut out all openings for lights/electrical, create wire pas ways, run main wire runs behind walls, and add insulation. The list seemed much simpler in my head before I started writing it all out.
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Overhead Console

-So I started on the front overhead console. With help from forum members on another forum post, I was able to get some better pictures/ideas of how SMB does these. Everyone's suggestions and pictures were a huge help. I started this like everything in a cardboard form. Luckily I had the stock headliner out so I could use it as a tracing guide for the windshield side. After transferring this to ¼” Baltic birch I was able to do an initial test fit in the cab with the stock headliner in.

-Then I located and cut out openings for the sun visor mount and center clips. The visors can't mount directly to the wood since they need to be held at an angle that matches the original orientation to maintain full functionality. So I cut an oversized hole and used an odd-shaped piece of ¼” BB to space the visor down. You can see that I clamped a 4’ level to the shelf while doing the test fit to get everything all lined up and fitting correctly.

-After getting the visors located correctly I was able to get my final dimensions all figured out and cut.

-I then added the vertical ½” BB supports which are cut to the taper of the headliner.

-After that, I started on the front face of the console. I used ¼” BB that was pushed tight to the curve and then scribed to the headliner to get a tight fit.

-After getting the face figured out I worked on the location of the overhead switches and where I wanted the openings to be located. I have enough room on both driver and passenger sides to have 3 22mm pushbuttons, but as of right now I am only using one location for the overhead map lights.

-Clamped it all up in place and then pulled it from the van to do a glue-up of the front face. I unintentionally made it a much more complex curve as it has a few flat spots with connecting curves and the front face goes from being perpendicular to the shelf to more angled in the center. Wasn’t an intentional design choice, but I am happy with how it turned out.

-Then it was back to the van for a final fitment check. As of right now, I am only using factory mounting points, and it seems to be plenty strong for what we are intending to use it for. It is held in place by the center visor clips that have long screws pinching the shelf to the van frame and then it is also pinched between the headliner and the A-pillar trim on the sides. Still have a few more things to do before upholstering but I am pretty happy with how this came together.

-I also added some small 1” overhead lights that I referenced above as overhead map lights. I saw this idea in a few pictures from SMB West's Sportsmobile Classic build and thought it was a great idea so I added it to our list.

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Door Panels

-So now that I am getting close to being done with the wall panels I started on the door panels. The first step was to mark out all the areas that I am going to cut out of the factory doors. I used pictures from REF’s and cthayn’s Build thread to help decide where I should cut to. I was a little nervous to take too much meat out of the doors and lose any rigidity, but after getting them all done I think they should be totally fine.

- I used a jigsaw to cut everything out, then a grinder to clean up the edges, and then a sanding block to get it ready for paint. After getting it all prepped I hit it with some Rustoleum rust-stopping paint.

-Once the holes for the door boxes were all cut. I started on all my door boxes starting with the front 60 door. I made the main structure out of ½” BB and will use ¼” BB for the rear panel. Since these boxes will be getting a decent amount of abuse being in the door I used a rabbet joint for all the corners except the 45° joint and dadoed the center shelf making for a very strong box.

-After doing a test fit I pulled it out and glued and screwed it all together using 2” trim head screws and then checked for final fitment after a light sanding.

-After getting the 60 door done I moved onto the 40 door and followed the same process. On this door, I had to notch the top of the box to allow room for the door locking cables. A nice and sturdy box just like the other one.

-I then went back to the driver-side rear door and repeated the process.

-After getting all the external structure of the boxes done I went back and added a ¼” BB to each box. These backs are glued and nailed from the back and then a trim bit router along the edges to get a clean edge, not that it really matters for back in the door.

-That's about all I have for now, but this week should be a pretty busy and exciting week. I have some more time set aside to work on the van, and have lots of parts that are expected to show up by this weekend!
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Door Panel:

-After looking through my last post I realized that I labeled the last post as door panels, when in reality they should have been labeled door boxes. Anyways here is how I did my door panels.

-I started on the rear passenger side door as it seemed to be the most basic door panel without any interior box. As with everything I started off with cardboard templates. I tried to make sure they followed the lines of the doors, while still making sure they closed fine.

-After getting my templated squared away I traced it out onto ¼’ Baltic Birch and cut my outline. After I had my shape established and checked I drilled out holes in the panel for where my attachment points would be going. Once the panel was held up in place I was able to mark all the holes on the van door for the threaded inserts. Once those were marked I drilled, painted, and installed the inserts. Then the door panels went back on for a fitment check. The first door had to be trimmed multiple times to account for the added thickness of the door panel on the door seal which made it take a few attempts.

-Once I got the panel all installed I went ahead and did a final attachment of the window shrouds that I got. I used the same process as everything else using threaded inserts getting them nice and secure.

-I then moved on to the second rear door following the same steps as the first, but leaving some more room around the door seal areas, and leaving the top edge long so I could pull a level line off the floor and get it lined up with the door panel next to it. I decided to leave the cut-out for the door boxes till last just to keep me moving in the same direction for the door panels.

-I continued this same process for the other two side doors until I had all the door panels fitting nicely.

-Up until now I had the door boxes just pressure fit into the doors, but decided they need some more structure so I got some 1” aluminum angle added threaded inserts, and added them to the door boxes to give me some structure to bolt through the boxes to the door panels. Now they are rock solid.

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-After getting the boxes secured I went back out a trim bit router and punched through the outer panel and routed out my openings for the door box access. I left a lip of varying amounts (depending on the box) on the bottom edge to act as a catch for the contents of the box. After getting the opening all cut I located and drilled out holes for the small 6-32 inserts to connect the panel to the boxes.

(Aluminum crossbar for a test)

(Aluminum crossbar for a test)
-On the largest box I wanted to have a bigger opening, but still have some restraint for the content, so I added a 1” x ⅛” steel crossbar in addition to the larger lip on the bottom side of the box. I used a straight-cut router bit to rout out a notch for the bar to sit flush with the face of the box and just used the pressure of the panel to hold it in place.

-And like that the door structures were basically done.

Miscellaneous Updates:

-We have been placing orders like crazy lately and have started to get stuff showing up which has been exciting for the most part. We have had a few headaches, but I won't go into too much detail here. Around the same time I was finishing up door panels, we started getting a bunch of boxes.

-We ordered a seat back in November, and finally received it. Although it did not match almost any of the dimensions it was supposed to it did match the most critical dimension of the width. After getting the base re-made and the pads modified by a local upholstery I think we are back in business. Also, you can see we started taping out our rough layout in the van!

Mockup Before Seat Base Adjustment

-We got our main electrical components.

-We also received our first batch of switches from Billet Automotive Buttons which are super nice and very high quality. Super excited to get those all installed hopefully soon.

-And the last big thing we got was our fridge! We decided to go with the Isotherm 85 Inox drawer. It wasn't cheap at all (even though we got a pretty good deal), but it does give us a good freezer space and was actually in stock which was one of the biggest problems we were having.

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