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Old 10-23-2017, 10:04 AM   #101
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Then I finally started going at the interior. I took everything out and put a layer of reflectix down, then put the floor and mat back in. I decided to only work on the back half of the van. The plan is to put windows on on the front half and obviously a pop top, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense to do insulation and everything if I was going to half to tear it out and cut holes for the windows later and top.

So I took the cushions off the bench seat and put the bolts through the floor but left them loose. This way I could move it around and get the sidewalls straight and square with the bench frame. The side walls are just 3/8" plywood with 2x4s behind it as a frame. The hardest part was getting everything straight since there is almost nothing that is straight in the van to indicate off. Once I had those screwed into the floor I put a 2x6 between right at the front of the bench frame. This added a ton of rigidity to the wood structure and also tightened up the frame which had quite a jiggle to it. I will put a piece of plywood going down to the floor and covering that piece later.

Next i did the plywood on top of that frame with as kind of a flange for the bed to sit in when it is folded down. The plan is then to put 2x4s vertical behind that to bump up the height to be level with the cushions when they are folded down.
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:17 AM   #102
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Finished the frame as planned. Extended the height with 2x4s on the back side and then plywood on the face and top. Hardest part was getting the back edge of the top piece of plywood to follow the wall of the van which is obviously not straight. Couple test fits and a jigsaw was able to solve the problem.

Once I got the frame finished it was time to put on the foam and fabric. I got a huge bag of this adhesive backed 1/4" thick PU foam for free that my old boss was getting rid of, it was designed for a medical foam pad. It turned out to work perfectly. I cut the radius off the corners and covered all the plywood in the foam. I thought I could do the base pieces while they were in the van still and do the top piece all at one....
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:20 AM   #103
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Forgot to attach the pictures for that first post.
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:24 AM   #104
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Yeah that wasn't going to work. I had to pull the bases out of the van and then disassemble the side "benches" and wrap everything in fabric separately.

I got some charcoal grey marine vinyl off of Amazon for $5 per yard to cover everything in. I sprayed the foam with some 3M foam and fabric adhesive and then stretched the fabric over the pieces as tight as possible and attached everything on the backside with a staple gun.

Turned out way better than I had thought. I will have to put some screws through the top of the benches to attach them to the bases but most of them will be covered by the seat/bed.
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:30 AM   #105
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we only leave for our trip in 5 days!
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:33 AM   #106
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So naturally the next thing to do was put the pads back on the bench seat and try it out.

the width was a little tight but doable. Big issue on the back panel though. It didn't have enough clearance to swing out flat and the bed couldn't go down. Now I am thinking I should remove the back panel from the chair mount and just permanently attach it to the frame I built so that it is always down. Going to have to do a bit more planning but that is the route I am heading. I was thinking I would have a piece of plywood go all the way across on the back anyway to kind of "house" the drawers i will put underneath the bed anyway so makes sense just to permanently attach the seat pad.

Also, bemerritt helped me out and we got the Vantage Optics headlights installed. These lights combined with the black grill and bumper look awesome!

Don't worry the plan is to reupholster the folding bench/bed in a light gray.
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Old 03-14-2018, 12:03 PM   #107
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So it has been a few months and I am overdue for an update. Unfortunately not a lot happened. Between travelling, the holidays, and getting the baby room ready for our first kid the van projects got lost in the mix a little bit. I finally got some time last weekend to get some real work done though so thought I would share.

After about 4 trips in the van I came to the conclusion that I wanted one big drawer to slide out of the back with all the gear in it and double as a table. My folding bench seat has 48" of space underneath it. I decided to go with a 36" drawer and then the extra 12" I want to use to house the deep cycle battery for the solar and other electrical stuff.

Got some nice 36" heavy duty drawer slides off amazon rated for 500lbs.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I made a frame to mount the drawer slides using 2x6's and attached those to the framework i already had installed for the bed. That left me with just under 36" of width for the drawer. Also, based on the height of the bench seat frame i could go 12" tall on the side walls with a small cutout in the back. So about 9 cubic feet of space, which was enough to hold all the camping gear. The drawer itself is made 3/4" plywood.

The plan was to make the front face fold down into the table. Unfortunately the hinges I bought to do that ($15) were garbage and i am currently rethinking the best way to do it. Get what you pay for right? So I wasn't able to finish the face/table part of the drawer, but it will be 4'x1' and be covered in the same gray vinyl fabric with a couple handles to pull out. I also realized i have two nice little cubby holes on either side of the drawer i can use for other storage (tools or something).

I am currently thinking something like this for the hinges and then some clamps to lock it in the folded position.
https://www.mcmaster.com/#13925a41/=1byvvpq
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Old 03-14-2018, 12:19 PM   #108
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On the poptop side, I have been working to get everything ready for the canvas to arrive. I finally installed the rubber gasket on the edge of the fiberglass and also bought some mounts to attach my yakima bars.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I also cleaned up(ish) and repainted both the rail mounts. Those things were covered in fabric and adhesive, and that adhesive did not want to come off. Then when I sanded it it just melted and spread around. In the end i put minimal effort into removing it since it will all get covered again once it is put in the van. I did the best I could and then just spray painted everything with white rustoleum.

I had some minor issues with the gasket install since my fiberglass edges were a little thick in a few spots due to the cutting and rework I did to adapt it to the newer body style, but nothing that I foresee as being an issue. I also had a bunch of leftover snaps so hopefully I put enough of those things on, it felt like i did plenty.

While waiting for the canvas to come and the install to get underway, the dog has claimed the poptop as her favorite sun bathing location! I will have to scrub all the paw prints off before I actually put it on the car now.

And the most exciting news of the week... The canvas has actually been shipped! Weather permitting, this could be the weekend that the hole gets cut in the roof! exciting times! My wife's due date is also this sunday so we could be cutting a hole in the roof and going into labor at the same time! Exhilarating stuff.

I am in the process of ordering all the hardware to attach the top and bemerritt and I have some interesting ideas to simplify things. Since the front bar doesn't move I want to just get some U bolts to mount through the roof. Then for the back bar mcmaster has 8" long U-bolts which might be enough travel.
https://www.mcmaster.com/#30555t42/=1byw3fy
https://www.mcmaster.com/#3060t81/=1byw3jp
The front bar attachment seems rock solid, back one seems like it might rattle and not be as stable as desired. What do you guys think?
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:44 PM   #109
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Finally got the canvas today! Very excited to get this pop top installed. Unfortunately the dog will lose her favorite lounging spot.

I also ordered some of the new style latches from the SMB website so I can ditch the old seat belt straps to hold it down.
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Old 04-30-2018, 05:38 PM   #110
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Inching closer and closer to the poptop install.

Mocked up the lift mechanism this weekend in the little time I had available. I decided to sand and repaint the original crossbars and not extend them at all. Bemerritt still thinks i should widen them, but I measured my neighbors down the street and it is the same width as mine. Ultimately the wife and I will always sleep on the bottom bed, and when the kid(s) are old enough they will be sleeping up top so I am not as concerned with the extra 4" of width.

All I need now is some time to cut the hole which is becoming harder and harder to come by with a 5 week old.
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