Camper Van Conversion Part 1
While we were looking for a newer and extended van, I fell in love with a 1988 Ford Econoline instead. Smaller and older, it was more affordable, plus it also came with tremendously low miles, a clean engine and a straight body. But it was the wood paneling in the back, blue vinyl seats and big blue dash lending it a sort of breezy, classic, surfer vibe that sold me immediately. I like it so much better than the utilitarian gray interior of newer cargo vans. Who wouldn’t?
Michael has been a super star mechanic and carpenter. He’s done a full tune-up on the van, replaced a fuel pump in one of the tanks (he had to drop the tank twice after it was leaking the first time), put a floor in, got all new tires, put in a CD player, speakers, built a counter, drink holder, door caddy and cornice board for the curtain separating the cab from the back of the van (sealing the light inside gives us the ability to stealth camp!). I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things too, he’s a busy bee. I was tasked with all the projects that don’t require tools, but I’m afraid I’m not that crafty either. It took me, my mom and Michael to finish the curtains. Dang it, fixing up a van is not easy I tell ya!
Doing the camper van conversion ourselves (more like himself, right?!) is time-consuming, but hey, this is what sparked the idea for our plan in the first place. I just wanted to go somewhere warm so I was preparing to fly to Hawaii, but I think Michael wanted something to build :) When he suggested a Mexico to Alaska road trip I wasn’t the least bit surprised and I was already on board. I always am with him. Well, except, I should say, when it comes to parades. I don’t like parades as much as he does. In fact, while I’m writing this and he’s finishing a plumbing job across town, we’re missing a christmas tree lighting parade in town and it’s my fault. I don’t really care to go, and now he says he doesn’t care if I don’t care, but earlier he cared. So I feel a little bad. And we don’t have any alcohol in the house right now so I’m really suffering.
The last few weeks have been way busy and I could sure use a glass of wine about now. Argh! Life is stressful enough without trying to save money (I’m not gonna lie, we didn’t decide to drink less in December for our health..)
Michael gets up every day at 5:30 to go to the gym (he makes me coffee too) and works at all his various jobs and then comes home and works on the van every night until at least 7pm. I’m working my full-time job at OWRD, plugging away at GIS maps and databases, plus I picked up a part-time job bar tending at the Elks Lodge down the street. Coors light or Bud light? At least they make my job easy. I CAN’T WAIT TO BE DRINKING TEQUILA ON A BEACH!
Guess what? We’ve also sold all three of our other vehicles in the last month. Holy shit, I think our plan is real now!
Here are some pictures of what we’ve done so far..
Camper Van Conversion Part 1
A full tune-up
Lots of evening hours in the dark working outside..
Sophie is such a curious cat.. she loves inspecting all our work.
Everything is custom-built to utilize as much space as possible. The bed sits just high enough to slide small totes under it, giving us as much head space as possible too.
White-washed everything that was made with reclaimed wood .
A piece of insulation, magnets hot glued in place, some fabric glue and outdoor fabric.. AWESOME .
Back windows are insulated and covered at the same time with easy inserts that pop right in and are held with magnets in the fabric. Just one of Michael’s brilliant designs.
Custom organizer on the door, a place for a flashlight, tire pressure gauge, owners manual and maps.
The list of things to get done before we’re road/home ready is a little scary since I want to leave in early January. I’m so anxious to sink my toes in the sand and watch the sunset over the warm Pacific!
This is what we will be working on for the next month:
Camper Van Conversion Part 2
- Build a roof rack, bike rack, spare tire rack
- Install a vent / fan in the roof of the van/ replace head-liner in van over curtain
- Interior LED lighting
- Exterior blinker acting funny
- Kitchen cabinetry/stove
- Rear speakers and laptop tray installed
The camper van conversion is a lot of work and since I can’t tackle any of it myself, I often feel like I’m not doing anything when there’s so much to be done. And Michael feels like he’s doing all he can and barely moving forward. It’s a balancing act right now.
I can’t believe in six weeks my life will be so completely different. All our possessions will either be stored in boxes somewhere or stuffed in our van with us as we slide into gear and hit the road. Our plan is rough around the edges but the glue holding it together is F L E X I B I L I T Y !
One more month!
Onward and upward!