Removing the rear door panels on Crew and Passenger vans

The trim surrounding the door handle is flimsy, so be careful when you remove it.

If you have a Crew or Passenger van, it’s likely that you have the rear door panels installed. These have handy storage compartments in them.

If you want to insulate behind them or install a rear view camera in the license plate area, you’ll have to remove the panels.

Just recently we realized that we never described how to do this on the site. We’ve had several people ask how to take the trim off the door handle area, so here’s the missing information. Continue reading “Removing the rear door panels on Crew and Passenger vans”

Making foldable window shades from Low-E foil-faced foam

Low-E window coverings that will fold up.

We made some window shades for our van a while back using Low-E. They work great but they are a pain to store. We decided to make them fold so they’d take up less space.

We tried stitching them with a sewing machine, melting them with a soldering iron, just smooshing them together, but the best overall technique was to use a hot iron on the fold lines. This is how we made it work.

Continue reading “Making foldable window shades from Low-E foil-faced foam”

LED lantern comparison – we did so you don’t have to

Five lanterns to test out in the van.

We bought five different types of LED lantern to test out which worked best in the van.

We found that we needed a couple of small lanterns for when we want to get up in the middle of the night rather than switching on the main lights inside the van. Because they are portable, we also use them outside the van when we’re hanging out after dark.

Here’s a list of what we tried, and which worked best for our needs…

Continue reading “LED lantern comparison – we did so you don’t have to”

Upgrading the stock Sprinter stereo – overview

Grille from old stereo system

The Sprinter’s “Audio 15” stereo system has an interface from the mid-90s, and speakers that sound like they are made from wet toilet paper. Sane people would just replace the whole lot, but we experimented with keeping the head unit and seeing what a difference good speakers would make.

When that didn’t give us quite enough improvement, we swapped out the head unit for something that produces clearer sound and connects better with our phones.

This is an overview of the different articles we’ve written about our attempts to get good sounds inside the van. If you’re trying to do the same thing, start here.

Continue reading “Upgrading the stock Sprinter stereo – overview”

DIY Conversion vans are always a prototype

Design drawing for cabinets
pro·to·type (ˈprōdəˌtīp/) noun: 
(1) A first, typical or preliminary model of something, especially a machine, from which other forms are developed or copied.
(2) A DIY conversion or adventure van, from which new layouts are continually developed or evolved.

 

We “finished” our conversion about a year after we got the van. By that point we had all the systems in. Either to our original design or to the design that we made up as we went along that reflected our real-world usage better. We didn’t necessarily have everything tidied up (we still don’t!) but all the components worked.

Now though, after using the van for a while, we want to make some changes. We don’t know quite what we want to change, or how we’ll do it, but we feel there’s potentially a better layout, a better storage setup, a better way of stopping water tanks from freezing over the winter, and a better way of freeing up cargo/bike space in the rear of the van.

Continue reading “DIY Conversion vans are always a prototype”