“The Van” Strikes Again


Well, well…. where to even start. I’m a week late and then some on updating the status of the van. This could be a lengthy one. Let’s dig in. So we were finally able to pick the van up from our mechanic in the last week of April. We won’t talk dollar amounts so I can keep my sanity, but know it was quite a bit. We had a lot of items serviced on it. The following is a rundown of all the work that was done so you all know what was done as well as a record for us. Full tune up, replaced spark plugs, cap and rotor, air filter, all belts and hoses. Tightened loose steering. Installed new Interstate battery. Reset ignition timing for smoother drivability. Rear Dana 50 axle serviced and filled with fresh gear oil. Filled transfer case and transmission oil. Fresh oil change with oil and new oil filter. New thermostat and seal. New transmission filter. New duralast gold starter. New temperature sending unit so the temperature gauge on the dash now works. A lot of “new”, right? Once we got the temp gauge on the dash working we noticed that it was running slightly hot, so we also put in a new Spectra premium radiator. Let’s take a break from words for a photo.

4x4 van in mechanic's parking lot

Here’s the 4×4 van in the mechanic’s parking lot

So now you know everything that was taken care of on the van. Directly after we picked it up, we headed down the road to Tires Plus for a brand spankin’ new pair of 315/75r16’s. While we were there, we also had new pads and rotors put on the front. So new brakes too! Add another thing to the “new” list… and add another dollar sign.

New 35 inch tires on the 4x4 van

New shoes on the whip

OK – current day: It’s now May 8th. Big shout out to Bailey’s folks for letting us park the van in the street in front of their house and doing all sorts of crap to it and also for letting us sleep in their house until we get this build wrapped up. We are optimistic that the entire thing will be done, road ready, and living ready by the end of May. Cross your fingers for us.

We’ve spent the last few days gutting out the inside from everything the previous owner had in there… mostly crap wood paneling on the walls and a king size bed frame. Yes, you can fit a full size king mattress and then some inside of this van. It’s big. It was fun getting in there and demo’ing the inside. Behind the crap wood panels he had up we found that he actually spent some time and money doing the insulation. All the walls and ceilings were insulated with Polyiso (short for polyisocyanurate) foam board, which is the best stuff around for this kind of application from my research. It has a high R (reflective) value, thus keeping the heat out and the cool in during the summer, and vice versa during the winter. That being said, we left all the insulation up and added to it by using cans of spray foam insulation to fill in all of the extra cracks and gaps to make sure the van was as air tight as possible.  After we removed everything from the van besides the insulation, we discovered a good bit of surface rust towards the rear of cargo area. A trip to Lowes to grab a grinding wheel attachment for my drill made pretty good work of that. We sanded down as close to bare metal as possible in all the spots that we could. We purchased some regular cream colored rustoleum and spray painted pretty much every surface in the rear cargo area of the van to prevent any further rusting. So, it looks a lot better on the inside now with that paint on it, but wait until that gets covered up with some nice woodwork! How about a photo gallery of some fun pictures from the demo process.

You can see from the photos where we started and even how far we have come in just the few days we have been doing demo. The interior is just about ready for some wood on the walls and then the fun stuff really starts. We’ve been going wild on amazon lately too – all sorts of things should arrive at the house any day; full 200w solar panel setup, new fantastic fan for the roof, coleman camp table, and a plastic outdoor area rug to name a few items. There will be many, many more items we need before we’re done, LOL. Before I wrap this post up, I should note that we are in no way professionals and mostly have no idea what we’re doing. I’ve read a lot of google and watched a lot of youtube videos. I’ve also built a desk or two in my time. We should be fine!

Lastly – If you are still reading this, thanks for following our fun (and expensive) project. Leave a comment so we know you are here. I hate to finish this awesome update on a sour note, but I was messing around in the engine bay yesterday and found some not good news with the brand new radiator that was just put in. Transmission fluid mixing with antifreeze because of a faulty radiator. The van is now back at the mechanic getting another new radiator and this time an external tranny cooler so we know for sure this won’t happen again. Just when I thought we had all the mechanical shit wrapped up…

bad radiator milkshake of death

Radiator milkshake of death. If you ever see this, it’s not good!

Just another bump in the road while traveling through the journey of life. And another deduction from my bank account. Cha ching! Thanks for reading guys, we will update soon when we get the van back and really get cranking on the inside buildout. We have a family friend who is somewhat of a professional and we’re looking forward to utilizing his help. Have thoughts or suggestions? Ideas? Leave us a comment. Cheers!

8 thoughts on ““The Van” Strikes Again

  1. Justin & Bailey, Although you’ll be ” living in a van down by the river” this is an awesome a adventure you’ve taken on. PawPaw Konkle would definitely be so proud to know that you’ve followed in his footsteps…..taking on a project
    “That needs a little help”! Looking forward to more updates❤️

  2. Found your site from the Living in a Van FB page. Will be following your progress as I want to do this myself…i do love how the idea, the desire and the pursuit of van living and wandering the country for wild and wonderful experiences can appeal to all ages from the young…you both…to the old…me. I think your expense now on the mechanicals will serve you very well in the long run and is the one most important area to not scrimp on. No doubt, you know that but still fill the pain of those negative dollar amounts showing up on your account.

    • That’s right, Meg! We’ve done a few cross country trips in my old ’93 Cherokee and know all too well the implications (and dollar amount) of not getting proper maintenance done on these old rigs. That said, we had everything looked at on the van and basically went from there… better to start clean now then run into trouble along the way! Cross your fingers and knock on wood for us though, it’s still an ’85! 😉

    • You’re so cool dude! You did it on a bike! We have somewhat of a route planned but nothing is in stone yet except that we’re heading towards Yellowstone shortly after skiing for the 4th of July in Mammoth! Before it’s all done we’ll have driven somewhat of a full circle around the US. More details in a later post to come…

  3. Hell yeah dude. love it. im actually gonna be doing the same thing in a few months so hopefully i can learn a few things from you. have fun man and let me know if theres any advice you have.

    • Good to hear from ya bud! This van life stuff is fun and exciting… and when we’re finished building, should be cheap living! I’ll try and post as much of the build as I can to provide ideas and inspiration. Gimme a shout when you get your van, I’d love to see it and talk shop.

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