Author: Nate (Page 2 of 3)

Insulating The Van Part 6 – Front Doors

In this installment, we dissect the front doors!  Both the passenger and the driver side doors will receive Roadkill sound deadener, some reflectix, and replacement speakers.  It would be nice to have more than just reflectix as insulation, but that’s just not too feasible because of all the moving parts with the windows.


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Insulating The Van Part 5 – Van Ribs

Wow, I didn’t realize quite how far behind I’ve gotten with updates on the van progress.  We’ve been getting a lot done, but at the expense of blog updates.  There are still a number of insulation-centric posts to come, and here comes one of them: Insulating the ribs on the walls and ceiling.

Ribs done

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Van Furnishings – Sofa Bed

That’s right!  We’re movin’ on up.  Up off the floor of the van and onto a comfortable sofa bed!  It’s taken two and a half months from time of order to time of delivery, but we finally got it.

There were a number of things we had to consider before we purchased this sofa bed.  Being one of the largest items in the van, it also plays a significant role in determining how everything else will be laid out.  And while we don’t have a set-in-stone floor plan, we do know we have to make room for some other big items, like a fridge, batteries, and a sink.  Even though it is large, we wanted it to be as small as possible.  This meant sleeping East/West instead of North/South since we wanted to minimize the number of foldout sections.  Luckily, the Chevy Express is about 6 feet wide, and we’re both shorter than 6 feet.  It is a little tight, but we’re both quite comfortable being slightly curled up side-sleepers.  We’re also very used to sleeping on 20″ wide backpacking sleeping pads, so it didn’t have to be very wide.

Sofa bed up, front

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Insulating The Van Part 4 – Cargo Area Floor

Continuing with the insulation of our van, which apparently has turned into a multi-part series, we are finishing the floor.  You may recall from a previous post the details of how we were insulating the floor, and may also recall that we only installed two of the three sections of foam/plywood.  The main reason we didn’t complete the floor all at once is because we ran out of foam.  The foam we’re using only comes in 9 foot by 4 foot sections.  It’s really a pain since we only needed a 2 foot by 5 foot piece.  Maybe we’ll find something to do with the extra foam later, but for now, it seems like a big waste.  Anyway, it’s now finished.

Floor not finished

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Van Furnishings – Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Install

The first piece of permanent furnishings to be installed is a toilet.  It’s probably a little strange to start with the toilet, but since the build-out of Blanche is a fairly slow process and we wanted to move in ASAP, we had to choose which parts were most important for us to be comfortable, and the toilet was one of them.  We chose to go with a composting toilet because, well, there’s really no reason NOT to go with a composting toilet.  There are a few options for compost toilets, including just using a bucket, but we decided to go with a more “traditional looking” manufactured unit, the Nature’s Head.

Composting Toilet installed

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Revisiting the MaxxFan

A couple months ago, one of the first things Blanche received was the MaxxAir MaxxFan.  We installed it using Eternabond tape to seal the exterior instead of caulking or lap sealant.  After some research (okay, only like 10 minutes) and consulting the great and powerful interwebs, it seemed that this Eternabond tape is worth the extra money since it was supposed to never leak and never need maintenance.  Sadly, it doesn’t come in short lengths, so we had to buy a 50 foot roll for about $50, even though we only used about 6 feet of it.  Still, if we never had to worry about leaks, it was worth it.

Flange and Eternabond

Flange and Eternabond

Admittedly, the tape on the roof doesn’t look so great, but there were no leaks and all was well…

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Insulating The Van Part 3 – Cargo Area Floor

The van floor is corrugated for strength and rigidity, like truck beds.  I’ve seen a lot of people cut a bunch of little strips of foam or carpet padding to fill in the gaps and create a level surface, but I didn’t want to do that much work.  The foam is rigid enough that it didn’t really compress much over the peaks and valleys of the floor, even with a persons weight on it.  Plus, 3/4 inch plywood is going over the foam, further dispersing the weight.

Sliding door foot well area

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Insulating The Van Part 2 – Cargo Area Pink Stuff

With the sound dampening finished (except for the front cab area), we can now move on to the next layer in the insulation plan: 1/2 inch thick Pink Extruded Polystyrene Foam Board and Pink Fiberglass Batting.  We didn’t want to use foam board any thicker than 1/2 inch so that it was easily flexed to the rounding walls and ceiling.  If it’s too rigid, it would either break when bent, or overpower the glue used to adhere it (probably).  Speaking of adhering it the foam board, we used 3M Hi-Strength 90 spray glue.  Hopefully this glue will hold up well, there are many reports both good and bad about using it for this.


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Insulating The Van Part 1 – Cargo Area Roadkill Sound Dampener

As previously discussed, the first “ply” of our insulation sandwich is Roadkill Sound Dampener.  I hope I never have to install this stuff again!  While it is not difficult to work with, it is tiring and time consuming…I’ll just leave it at that.


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The Plan for Insulating Our Van


Insulation.  A necessary evil.  On one hand, insulation is wonderful for keeping in the warmth in the winter, and keeping out the hot in the summer.  On the other hand, insulation is such a pain to deal with.  Why?  Mostly because of the numerous options and types of insulation, and installation schemes.  It is possible to spend days or weeks researching how best to insulate, and then how to best secure it to the walls, floor, and ceiling.  I’ve seen vans and RVs insulated with hard foam board, expanding spray foam, fiberglass batting, reflectix, bubble-wrap, blankets, denim batting, and even nothing at all.  Every option has it’s benefits as well as it’s pit falls.  The truth is, none of these are perfect and you’ll just have to decide how to insulate based on your expected uses of the van.  You also have to keep in mind how thick or thin you want the walls to be.  The walls can quickly become multiple inches thick, eating into the already limited space in a van.

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