THE D.I.Y. VAN CONVERSION
EZ-Cool Heat and Sound Insulation, ¾ of 1 roll
Southern Pine Tongue-and-Groove Plywood 48”x 96” x 0.719” – 3 sheets for $93
Maxx has a big floor. 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. Ya. Twelve feet. And that’s just to the back of the front seats. (The full van is 19’6” bumper-to-bumper.) That’s 72 square feet of floor.
But it’s not a complicated floor. Only the rear wheel wells get in the way, and they were simple trapezoidal cut-outs. There is no step at the side door, so that’s not an issue either. ProMasters are front-wheel-drive vans, so, with no drive-shaft running underneath to the rear wheels, the floor sits lower. This gives the PM a taller cargo bay than Sprinter or Transit, topping out at a Rick-can-stand-up-straight 6’4”, and an impressive-sounding 456 cubic feet of cargo (or living) space.
Maxx came with a thin rubber floor and, as part of the the temp décor, I laid a cheap green rug over it. No way that was going to suffice, though. Aside from the noise and heat of the sheet metal, there was going to have to be something that I’d be able to screw 2x4’s into when I get around to building my furniture. And there would be tile laid on top of it in one of the very last steps of The Project.
48" x 96" sheets of 23/32” slotted pine.
The 4-foot widths were a perfect fit in
the 12-foot bay; each just had to have two feet
of length sawed off. The middle one needed
a slight trim where the Big Rib was (just behind
the sliding door), and the back sheet needed
some extra cuts for the wells.
slotted sheets were key for avoiding separations
between the sheets. With their tongues
tightly in their grooves, the uniform level of
the floor was guaranteed. With a
peel-and-stick tile in the future plans, that
would matter a lot.
But before any of that would get done, there was EZ-Cooling to do. Many of the videos that I watched stressed the importance of having a layer of insulation under the sub-floor in order to keep heat in. Huh? Keep it in?? Why would I want to do that? Those folks were all into that weird winter stuff and, thus, needed to keep the van toasty when they boondocked out near the ski areas and such. Rotsa ruck to them, I say. When winter rolls around, me be Florida-bound.
Besides, warm air rises, so how does floor insulation help anyway? Well, some videos claimed that, while it didn’t help with the temperature all that much, it earned most of its keep as a layer of padding under the plywood. The plywood was pretty damn heavy, so its own weight would keep it from moving much, but having that layer of EZ-Cool under it eliminates all that wood-on-metal rattle.
I drove up to Cape Coral to get my plywood. I also drove up there to get my workshop. B&J, my erstwhile Key West besties, bought a house up there, and it has a garage and a driveway. I deemed those to be perfect for this kind of work, and invited myself up to pay them an overdue visit.
Turns out, Brian and I did all the work out in the South Florida sunshine. The EZ-Cool took just a few minutes to do. We used the green rug – which had been cut to fit snugly – as our template, marked the outline on the EZC with a Sharpie, cut it with a box cutter, sprayed 3M-90 on the underside and on the rubber floor, and stomped it down.
Then, we used the open back doors of the van as our work table, sawing the plywood cuts just behind the rear bumper, and hefting the planks into place right from there. Some more 3M-90 was applied to the underside of the wood and to the top of the EZC, just because, well, why not? We fit the tongues of the back two sheets into the grooves of the front two sheets, and we were done!
What would I
have done differently?
Well, part of me wanted to bolt the floor down. That
was actually the plan.
didn't realize it until everything was out of
the van, but if I removed the handful
of floor-level OEM tie-downs that came with the
van, I could have used the existing holes to
drill up through the wood and used t-nuts to
lock it down.
There would have been no metal drilling to do,
and the bolt/washer would have sealed the hole
against corrosion. That probably would
have been the most significant benefit.
The floor itself was not going anywhere; it
would be bolted and screwed to things that
were bolted and screwed directly to the
frame. I kinda wish I had done
it, but at the time, well, it was getting
mighty hot out, the floor was damn
stable as it was, crawling under Maxx wasn’t
that appealing, annnnd we had another big fish
yet to fry: the solar panel installation.