Build update: Fancy doors, vinyl floor, and two workers who are very, very sore

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It’s been over two weeks since our last build update, so I bet you’re hoping for a lot of progress. Well, YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE (especially since you’re on our new website – well done you!). It’s easy to lose track of all our momentum but, thanks to photos, I won’t miss a thing so you won’t either. There’s quite a lot so buckle up and get ready for a ride.

Vinyl Flooring: We have a beautiful floor! This takes Vaniel to a whole new level. That level being about 1.5″ higher than the floor was previously given the insulation and wood beneath. (And take note of that beautiful floor edge angle!)

Sliding and back door panels: With few exceptions, the sliding door and back doors now look like they will for the final build. We used spare aluminum from the shop for our base material and we covered it with 2mm polymat “carpeting”, for lack of a better word, the kind typically used in car trunks, so you know it’s sturdy! This was tedious work as there was no template to work off of for the upper back doors, we had to drill and re-drill a ton of holes – AND the doors were uneven. There’s a corner I’m not a fan of, but otherwise, I’m super pleased with how they turned out given the unique structure we were dealing with.

Speaker Upgrade to the MAX: I’m no audio expert, but I can tell you when I learned the stock speakers in the van typically run for $7, I wasn’t surprised. So, we replaced them with Polk Audio speakers. But we didn’t stop there. We also added speakers to the rear doors (Polk Audio as well) AND a Kicker subwoofer beneath the driver’s seat. Because Colin. 

Aluminum panels for driver side interior: To protect the insulation for areas in the van that won’t have walls, we created aluminum panels to protect the polyiso. Notice the fancy machine Colin is using to cut our aluminum. This is where working in an aluminum and glass factory really comes in handy!

SOLAR!: Nothing says “off-grid” more than having your own energy source. And now, we have one! Or three, to be precise: three solar panels at 100 watts each. They’re not hooked up yet, but once they are, I can’t wait to get Vaniel in the sun!

Ski/snowboard rack: Colin added an extension to one of our wheel well boxes for a ski/snowboard rack. I sanded her down and threw some polyurethane on the rack so it’s nice and water resistant. 

van build update sanding

Battery box: We now have somewhere to store our three house batteries. See that box under our ski rack? That’s it!

van build garage

Furring strips: Want walls? You need furring strips. This is super exciting because I see it as one step away from getting our walls put up. We’re probably still a ways off, but it makes me happy to think about regardless. 🙂

Bed “headboard” and “footboard”: Thanks to more spare aluminum from the shop, we have some excellent panels for our head and feet area! We wanted to maximize our sleeping space so the walls around the bed will be recessed, saving us about 4-5 inches which is HUGE when it comes to sleep factor. 

promaster build update

Ceiling: My labor of love. I best love our ceiling when it’s installed because I have clocked almost 30 hours working on these planks. 32 planks, sized 8 ft x 3.56 inches each. I sanded them all, stained them all (and a bit of myself), sanded them all again, and applied three coats of polyurethane to the front and two coats to the back. Ask Colin sometime about the massive bulge I had on my right deltoid after working on those planks for nine hours in one day. Ask him!!

Wiring: It may look like a clusterf*ck to some, but to us, we see running water, lights, heat, and a refrigerator. Eventually all these wires will run into a circuit board but, for now, they’ve been routed through their appropriate areas in the van and are just waiting to poke one of our eyes out. 

van build update wires

Cabinet making: In my four days working on our ceiling *grumble grumble*, Colin was creating a masterplan for our overhead cabinets to maximize on our storage space. Talk about dividing and conquering, he crushed it! We just started painting and they look absolutely beautiful. When they go up, it’ll really start to feel like a home. 🙂

promaster van build cabinets

I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, there’s no way they can top this build update…” but you’re wrong! Because I know what’s on deck: installing our cabinets (once they’ve been properly painted), installing our stupid beloved ceiling, and so much more! 

Author: Lisa

Over one year in van life and loving it. Hiker, rock climber, novice mountain biker, and professional napper. Official “documenter” of our time with Vaniel. Favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. John Joseph says:

    Beautiful work and thanks for the details. I was wondering how you initially attached the long frontback ceiling rib from which it appears that your overhead cabinets are supported? Thanks

    1. Lisa says:

      Hi, John! We put rivnuts through each of the ceiling ribs and then we bolted a strip of 2×2 wood across the entire length of the van. Good luck with your own build!

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