Van... or AstroVan?

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Van... or AstroVan?

Postby KyleS [OP] » February 27th 2017, 3:10am

Hey guys,
Beginning my build-out, and this seems like a good place to document it.

I guess I should start with a little backstory:
My girlfriend and I live in Colorado and we're avid climbers, mountaineers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, etc. A couple years ago, we spent a ski season exploring New Zealand in my buddy's Toyota Hi Ace. If you know what that is, you won't be surprised that we were bitten by the camper van bug. Fast forward to last month when we became the proud owners of a 2003 Astro AWD. She's got ~200k on the clock but she came with diligent maintenance records and a brand new transmission sealed the deal.

Two weeks ago was her maiden voyage - we covered about 600 miles up to Crested Butte and back for a big snow storm. We pulled the bench seats, blew up an air mattress in the back, and off we went. The studded snow tires dominated the icy roads and the nights were comfortable despite the cold temps without a heater or insulation. But keeping our wet snowboards and gear separate from our bedding was a pain and we knew we had to start the build-out as soon as possible. And so it begins.

Step one: Gut it.
The carpet was still wet from our wet snowboard gear a week later - unacceptable. So we've pulled out the carpet all the way to the dashboard. If we're putting in waterproof flooring, I don't see any reason we wouldn't want it in the front, too. Also the trim panels, especially in the far back, waste a significant amount of space - gone. Here's a picture of the progress so far:
photo (2).JPG
A Blank Canvas


Next on the agenda is getting a waterproof floor in. Here's the plan: Rip some strips of plywood to fit in between the ridges of the floor - one on each side and one down the middle, glue them down with liquid nails. Fill the rest of the ridges with Reflectix. Put a layer of 1/2" Polyiso board on top and glue it and the Reflectix down with Good Stuff. Then treated plywood for subfloor, screwed into the ribs that got glued to the floor. Right now I'm leaning toward vinyl tile on top of that, but I'd love to hear suggestions. As you could imagine, waterproof is paramount.

But first the rear A/C unit has got to go. I traced the refrigerant lines and there seems to be some fittings near the rear heat unit. Anyone have first hand experience deleting everything from there back? Obviously, I'm going to have a professional drain the refrigerant first, but I'd like to do as much as possible myself. If I can cap or couple those fittings, the only other problem is the hole in the floor where the lines enter the cab. I have no welding experience or equipment - is there any way to plug that without paying someone to weld it? Would using JB Weld be a stupid idea?

Also, I'd like to put a swivel bracket on the passenger seat. I've found a couple commercial products online and I emailed a guy over on expedition portal, but I'm not in love with anything I've found quite yet. Any suggestions there?

Thanks in advance for any advice from those of you who have already been down this path. And if you're in Colorado and want carpet, trim or a rear A/C unit, let me know.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby RonRod » February 27th 2017, 4:22am

Kyle, welcome! Where in CO are you? I'm down in Durango and am working on a full camperization of a 96 AWD, including pop top, swivel seat, fold down bed, fridge, etc. if you search the forum for Waldo it should turn up my build thread. If you are SW Colorado, maybe we can catch up some time.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby AstroWill » February 27th 2017, 4:31am

Welcome to the site!

KyleS wrote:Next on the agenda is getting a waterproof floor in. Here's the plan: Rip some strips of plywood to fit in between the ridges of the floor - one on each side and one down the middle, glue them down with liquid nails. Fill the rest of the ridges with Reflectix. Put a layer of 1/2" Polyiso board on top and glue it and the Reflectix down with Good Stuff.

Skip the reflectix, with an r value of 0.6 or whatever it's simply not worth it in that situation.

KyleS wrote:Then treated plywood for subfloor, screwed into the ribs that got glued to the floor.

Stay away from PT wood for something like this.

KyleS wrote:Right now I'm leaning toward vinyl tile on top of that, but I'd love to hear suggestions. As you could imagine, waterproof is paramount.

Vinyl flooring is great for a floor covering, however, I would use 1 piece and not tiles.

KyleS wrote:But first the rear A/C unit has got to go. I traced the refrigerant lines and there seems to be some fittings near the rear heat unit. Anyone have first hand experience deleting everything from there back? Obviously, I'm going to have a professional drain the refrigerant first, but I'd like to do as much as possible myself. If I can cap or couple those fittings,

You want to cap it as close to where those lines enter the system you don't want dead ends. You could also use the factory hoses from a system without rear A/C.

KyleS wrote: the only other problem is the hole in the floor where the lines enter the cab. I have no welding experience or equipment - is there any way to plug that without paying someone to weld it? Would using JB Weld be a stupid idea?

Nope, JB weld would work just fine.


KyleS wrote:Also, I'd like to put a swivel bracket on the passenger seat. I've found a couple commercial products online and I emailed a guy over on expedition portal, but I'm not in love with anything I've found quite yet. Any suggestions there?

All of mine have been commercial versions, out of the 4 swivels I currently have(from the late 80s) only one needs to be tightened up. I don't have any experience with the home built ones but wouldn't hesitate to use the commercially available ones that RV mfgs use.

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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby sixsix » February 27th 2017, 5:10am

Welcome to the Astro Safari Big Show, Kyle.



Mike
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Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... Anyone that condones the actions of the American People during the Storming of the Capitol are as complicit as the Assholes themselves.
But no way does this let the Democrats or the MSM off the Hook.

.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby MI_Ghost » February 27th 2017, 2:01pm

KyleS wrote:
But first the rear A/C unit has got to go. I traced the refrigerant lines and there seems to be some fittings near the rear heat unit. Anyone have first hand experience deleting everything from there back? Obviously, I'm going to have a professional drain the refrigerant first, but I'd like to do as much as possible myself. If I can cap or couple those fittings, the only other problem is the hole in the floor where the lines enter the cab. I have no welding experience or equipment - is there any way to plug that without paying someone to weld it? Would using JB Weld be a stupid idea?

Also, I'd like to put a swivel bracket on the passenger seat. I've found a couple commercial products online and I emailed a guy over on expedition portal, but I'm not in love with anything I've found quite yet. Any suggestions there?

Thanks in advance for any advice from those of you who have already been down this path. And if you're in Colorado and want carpet, trim or a rear A/C unit, let me know.


I might start out by suggesting that you roll the van back over on its wheels. JK. :lol:
It is a glitch in the forum software that does not read the orientation correctly.

I'll start off with the rear AC. The fittings up near the rear heater unit will come apart easily with a couple 10" crescent wrenches. The joint at the rear where it enters the body will be the problem. The nut will come off but the joint will probably be corroded solid. It might take some heat and penetrating oil to get the joint loose. Worst case would be to pull the lines in through the hole. Not Fun!!!

AS Will mention it is not good to have a length of dead end pipe in the system. If you decide to go with the non-rear AC lines. Let me know. I would be interested in get the old rear AC lines from you.

To cover the hole in the floor just cut a piece of sheet metal an use self taping screws with the JBWeld to seal it up.

This is the only source that I am aware of for adding the swivel to the factory seat as a direct bolt in.
http://shop4seats.com/van-seats/van-sea ... ctory.html
Note that it is not approved for seats with air bags.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby MI_Ghost » February 27th 2017, 2:20pm

AstroWill wrote:Welcome to the site!

KyleS wrote:Next on the agenda is getting a waterproof floor in. Here's the plan: Rip some strips of plywood to fit in between the ridges of the floor - one on each side and one down the middle, glue them down with liquid nails. Fill the rest of the ridges with Reflectix. Put a layer of 1/2" Polyiso board on top and glue it and the Reflectix down with Good Stuff.

Skip the reflectix, with an r value of 0.6 or whatever it's simply not worth it in that situation.

I have to disagree with you on this Will. I have used a similar product for just that purpose.
While it does not offer a lot of R value insulation the foil backing does act like a radiant barrier helping to keep the floor cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It changed the floor in the semi truck I used to drive from unbearably hot/cold to tolerably warm/cool.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby sixsix » February 27th 2017, 3:21pm

MI_Ghost wrote: ... I might start out by suggesting that you roll the van back over on its wheels. JK.
It is a glitch in the forum software that does not read the orientation correctly. ...


Strange... on a few counts:

- I always thought it was thoughtless posters who did not know how to orient their photos properly, because they did not know how to hold the camera , etc, etc.
- So it is actually the Forum that Goofs it up , after all ?
- Why would a member be satisfied with the Forum flipping it ? Why don't they go back and turn it properly via an edit or their original ?
- My Goodness... is it possible that the photo looks OK to them on their PC, Phone or Device or Rock Tablet or whatever ?
- And how is it that sometimes when you click on the photo - it turns it over and sometimes not ? Probably has to do w/ upload or display method.

:confused: - :confused: - :confused: - :confused: ( no surprise there )

Mike
.

Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... Anyone that condones the actions of the American People during the Storming of the Capitol are as complicit as the Assholes themselves.
But no way does this let the Democrats or the MSM off the Hook.

.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby RonRod » February 27th 2017, 3:28pm

+1 on the solid sheet of vinyl versus tile. With the temp changes that our vans see, you also want to glue down the full sheet versus let it float. If you let it float it may buckle when the van starts to heat up and the vinyl expands. Apparently when it's glued down this is not an issue according to the guy I bought my vinyl from.

I tried peel and stick vinyl tiles and they were toast within two weeks.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby AstroWill » February 27th 2017, 3:38pm

MI_Ghost wrote:
AstroWill wrote:Welcome to the site!

KyleS wrote:Next on the agenda is getting a waterproof floor in. Here's the plan: Rip some strips of plywood to fit in between the ridges of the floor - one on each side and one down the middle, glue them down with liquid nails. Fill the rest of the ridges with Reflectix. Put a layer of 1/2" Polyiso board on top and glue it and the Reflectix down with Good Stuff.

Skip the reflectix, with an r value of 0.6 or whatever it's simply not worth it in that situation.

I have to disagree with you on this Will. I have used a similar product for just that purpose.
While it does not offer a lot of R value insulation the foil backing does act like a radiant barrier helping to keep the floor cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It changed the floor in the semi truck I used to drive from unbearably hot/cold to tolerably warm/cool.

The simple fact is that without an air gap it can NOT act as a radiant barrier. Everything is relative, just an example, going from 0.1 to 0.7 would be a large improvement, however, in the installation that he described it would be a complete waste of money in my opinion.


sixsix wrote:I always thought it was thoughtless posters who did not know how to orient their photos properly, because they did not know how to hold the camera , etc, etc.
- So it is actually the Forum that Goofs it up , after all ?
- Why would a member be satisfied with the Forum flipping it ? Why don't they go back and turn it properly via an edit or their original ?
- My Goodness... is it possible that the photo looks OK to them on their PC, Phone or Device or Rock Tablet or whatever ?
- And how is it that sometimes when you click on the photo - it turns it over and sometimes not ? Probably has to do w/ upload or display method.

It's the way the forum software does the preview, the images have an orientation tag that is being ignored in that step, and when you open it to full size your web browser is reading that orientation tag and putting it right side up.

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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby WimpTech » February 27th 2017, 3:47pm

Welcome Kyle, of to a good start.
You may consider dialing back all those floor screws, you don't really need them and you're creating a whole lot of rusty opportunities.
You won't need to fill in between the ribs if you use a sturdy piece of ply, 1/2" should do the trick.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby KyleS [OP] » February 27th 2017, 5:38pm

Thanks everyone for the replies! I'll try to keep this thread updated as things progress.

RonRod wrote:Where in CO are you? I'm down in Durango
I'm in Fort Collins for now, dreaming of moving back to the mountains ASAP. We lived in Bayfield (Forest Lakes) right after we got back from NZ and I lived in the Wolf Creek area for a half dozen years before that. We miss it down there and will definitely be back at some point. Is that you selling the bench seat/bed on craigslist?

AstroWill wrote:Skip the reflectix
Thanks for the advice. What would you recommend using to fill the troughs instead, more polyiso?

AstroWill wrote:Stay away from PT wood for something like this.
Again, thanks for the heads up. What would you use instead, and why is PT wood not viable?

AstroWill wrote:You want to cap it as close to where those lines enter the system you don't want dead ends. You could also use the factory hoses from a system without rear A/C.
Ugh, swapping all the lines seems like an enormous amount of work. Would it be reasonable to get a short piece of tube to simply connect the two fittings to each other to make a loop?

MI_Ghost wrote:This is the only source that I am aware of for adding the swivel to the factory seat as a direct bolt in.
http://shop4seats.com/van-seats/van-sea ... ctory.html
Thanks! A guy near me is selling one of these on craigslist: https://www.amazon.com/Swivel-Pro-Seat- ... B005JIZS64 There's a blog out there of someone using this in an Astro, seemed to be pretty plug-n-play, but I don't think it's DOT tested. Anyone have an opinion on it before I pull the trigger?
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby TurnNburn » February 27th 2017, 7:17pm

welcome to the forum. If you are concerned about flexing of the floor I think you can skip the little strips in between the humps. We did not do that in our van and the sub floor is more then strong enough that you don't even notice.

I like the vinyl idea, I don't know why I didn't think of that. Although our "hard wood" wood floors are pretty water resistance(they have been spilled on many times now without incident), I don't think they would last very long with puddles of water from melting snow on them.

The swivel is definitely not DOT approved, and depending on your fabbing skills I would say that its not plug and play. Something to consider, unless your like 5 foot tall, or whoever sits in the passenger seat the most is considerably short, that swivel is going to ad 1.22 inches to the overall height of the seat, which is going to put you that much closer to the ceiling. But with that being said, I am considering this setup for my swivel but at 6'2'', I am going to have to hack up the seat base and subtract that the extra height. I am already close enough to the roof as it is.

Soooo how big is your lift going to be?
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby RonRod » February 27th 2017, 9:17pm

Nice, I went to school at CSU. Got down here as soon as I could. Yes, that is my seat on Craigslist. Willing to cut a good deal if you are interested.

The vinyl has been nice. We went with one of the softer versions for looks, and I kinda wish we had waited to fine a harder vinyl that would be more durable. Eventually the stuff we have will get dinged and cut by things like bikes and tools and such. I'm considering getting a piece of shower tub liner to lay down as a waterproof, easy to fit & roll out protection layer. Or I might just roll the dice and deal with any cuts when they occur.

Also, I didnt lay anything in the channels and even with only a 1/2 sheet of cheap ply, I dont have any concerning flexing in the floor. I only tacked the sheet in place with a handful of screws. It's not going anywhere. I did put a little bit of butyl tape down on where I drilled through so that I hopefully have a waterproof hole. No issues so far.

I considered that seat swivel as well, but decided it would add too much height as per TurnNBurn's notes.
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby AstroWill » February 27th 2017, 10:17pm

KyleS wrote:
AstroWill wrote:Skip the reflectix
Thanks for the advice. What would you recommend using to fill the troughs instead, more polyiso?

If you are convinced that you have to fill in those gaps, then yes I would use the polyiso as it's going to have better insulating properties. Always look at the r-value per inch, then do the math for how thick it's going to be when installed.
KyleS wrote:
AstroWill wrote:Stay away from PT wood for something like this.
Again, thanks for the heads up. What would you use instead, and why is PT wood not viable?

It's not necessary, requires hot dipped galvanized or stainless fasteners and brackets, it will corrode aluminium and steel quickly, it's an irritant so working with it is kind of a pain, it's really designed for outdoor use :) Cheap plywood is what I would use as it's going to be covered, weight is definitely a consideration in a mobile application. I would also consider outdoor carpet instead of vinyl as it will be more of an insulator and also better at sound deadening. TreeTiger has vinyl flooring, and it's a bit louder than the other two with carpet.
KyleS wrote:
AstroWill wrote:You want to cap it as close to where those lines enter the system you don't want dead ends. You could also use the factory hoses from a system without rear A/C.
Ugh, swapping all the lines seems like an enormous amount of work. Would it be reasonable to get a short piece of tube to simply connect the two fittings to each other to make a loop?

If you were capping off a rear heating system that would work, but not on an A/C system, you really have to cap it as close as possible, or replace those hoses, shouldn't cost too much either.
KyleS wrote:
MI_Ghost wrote:This is the only source that I am aware of for adding the swivel to the factory seat as a direct bolt in.
http://shop4seats.com/van-seats/van-sea ... ctory.html
Thanks! A guy near me is selling one of these on craigslist: https://www.amazon.com/Swivel-Pro-Seat- ... B005JIZS64 There's a blog out there of someone using this in an Astro, seemed to be pretty plug-n-play, but I don't think it's DOT tested. Anyone have an opinion on it before I pull the trigger?

I have seen where they used the seat brackets from the rear bucket seats because they sit lower and then added that swivel on top, just some drilling and spacers required. How well that would compare to a commercial RV swivel, I have no idea. I would like to see them after some long term live-in use.

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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby KyleS [OP] » March 2nd 2017, 8:45pm

TurnNburn wrote:If you are concerned about flexing of the floor I think you can skip the little strips in between the humps. We did not do that in our van and the sub floor is more then strong enough that you don't even notice.
RonRod wrote:I didnt lay anything in the channels and even with only a 1/2 sheet of cheap ply, I dont have any concerning flexing in the floor.
Actually, the reason I want to fill in that void is to prevent condensation from building up against the cold metal and eventually rusting the floor. I plan to sleep in this van in temperatures well below freezing on a regular basis. RonRod, since you're also in Colorado, do you have any input on that?
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KyleS
Fueling (1/4 tank)
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby RonRod » March 2nd 2017, 9:47pm

I haven't noticed any condensation, but that's mostly because I haven't gone looking for it, as I would have to pull up my floor to see if its there. I suppose it could be an issue long term, so time will tell.
RonRod
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby KyleS [OP] » December 1st 2017, 9:27pm

After a long summer of maintenance projects rather than interior build-out, I finally got the floor in.
IMG_0781.JPG


After shopping around for sheet vinyl and not really finding exactly what I was looking for, someone suggested that I just finish the hell out of the plywood. So I bought some higher end plywood and used a shou-sugi ban technique, which basically means I charred it with a blowtorch. Then I put a half dozen coats of poly on it, and then a few more coats just to be sure. I figure, if it doesn't work out how I want, I can always throw sheet vinyl over it later.

Originally, I wanted a layer of polyiso between the van and the wood. But after I got it all cut to fit, I realized that my bench seats brackets wouldn't be able to reach the floor mounts. So I scrapped the polyiso and put the plywood directly down onto the metal ribs. I really wanted something to fill the airspace between the ribs in the van floor to prevent condensation, so I went with Good Stuff spray foam. Without going into long-winded detail, I'll just say that I don't recommend it for this particular application.
Original Poster [OP]
KyleS
Fueling (1/4 tank)
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby WinnieVan » December 1st 2017, 10:49pm

Woot! Glad your doing!

Looks good! One of my future projects is putting in a subfloor. I like the idea of just finishing the plywood -- but I would worry a bit about road noise without any isulation or carpet!

Good ups on the shou-sugi ban tehcnique... that's cool!
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Re: Van... or AstroVan?

Postby WoodButcher » December 6th 2017, 3:41am

Has anyone considered Perlite for insulating the floor ribs? brush on contact cement or bedliner between the ribs then spread perlite and let dry?
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