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Old 07-14-2015, 05:24 PM   #1
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Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Hi my name is caroline and I'm 20 years old and currently living in Michigan. I recently bought a 2005 ford e-350 passenger van. Her name is Velma! I plan on making into a little artist studio and home that I can travel, work and live in full time starting this fall. I adore the outdoors and my work is largely inspired by travel and nature. I plan on building a wooden high top so I can stand up, because it needs to be a full functioning studio. I plan on camping in the woods as often as possible so stealth isn't really my goal here. I have started to remove the interior and work a little on the rust. The seats are out the walls are out, now I just need to remove the rear air conditioner, some remaining floor bolts (the worst), and the carpeting. I am working a lot of hours right now so progress is slow, but my last day at my regular 9-5 is in a little less than 2 weeks. So after that I will be devoting all my time and energy into this build! I haven't figured out the picture thing completely yet but I will defiantly figure out a away to show tons of pictures of the process! Any advice is very much welcome!
- Caroline
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Old 07-14-2015, 07:51 PM   #2
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Welcome. This link will explain how to post photos, viewtopic.php?f=10&t=110. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:36 PM   #3
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

My 2 cents....

Building a wooden high top is a pretty ambitious project. Why not go with a Sportsmobile or CCV pop-top? There are also some great fiberglass fixed tops. The interior is where you should focus your creative talents!
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:11 PM   #4
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Thanks for the help on pictures! And Im an artist and nanny, sportsmobile pop tops aren't really in my budget... They cost more than I make in like three months haha. I think I can manage it, and I don't have any junk yards nearby, I live in a very very secluded area of the country so Its hard to find used high tops and I want it tall enough so I can stand (Im 5' 4.5") but not crazy high, and I know this is a bad reason but I really like the look of the wood better. Its something I can do myself also with the resources I have here so it seems convenient and Im not saying it will be easy at all but I think I can give it a solid effort.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:20 PM   #5
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Hi Caroline, Welcome! Congrats on chasing and living your dream at such a young age!

One thought from reading your post - Why the rush to rip out the factory rear air and heat? You are going to be traveling and living in this and it is a large space to rely on just the dash HVAC when you are driving. I am a big fan of leaving those in and using them to be comfortable. If you have a gasoline engine, you run it at idle and at least be able to take the chill or humidity off without really needing a generator.

Re: The top - I can understand why you want a fixed top since this will also be your studio and likely you will be wanting storage. You are close enough to Indiana where there are a couple of fiberglass top manufacturers who will sell to you at a reasonable price. Best Way is one and there is also another, I cannot remember right now. Get one of there Camper 24 " raised tops (or taller, I think they make a 30"). It will be far more robust/weatherproof and weigh less than anything you can make out of wood. You are looking at adding a lot of weight up high on an already tall vehicle.

Just some thoughts
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:43 PM   #6
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Im removing the rear ac unit because it doesn't work anyways haha. And it would cost like $1500 to fix. It was one big downfall of the van and I got it for a good deal because of it. The front AC doesn't work either but the heat does, I wouldn't probably ever use the AC anyways even if it did work. And I know that sounds dumb to say but honestly I swear Im one of those people who can be super active in 105 degree heat and barely sweat. Heat on the other hand Ill have to do something about but like I said the rear stuff doesn't work, so ill figure that out. I do plan on following fair weather, but Im not an idiot I've spent time in arizona and out west even the dessert can be very very cold at night. And yeah Im still figuring out the top, but I think I'm going to try and build one, If I fail, fiberglass retailers will always be there after! If I succeed it will save me some money and be super cute stained a dark cherry, and I can very easily paint a mural on the ceiling.
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:48 PM   #7
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Caroline . If i were you I would search for a used fiberglass fixed top . I have found several in my area at salvage yards for $100 or less. You can also place a wanted ad on Craigslist .Also here is a link to short film from surfer and filmmaker Cyrus Sutton who built a wooden hightop for his Ford Econoline van. ( only the first few minutes show the construction of the van )
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Old 07-14-2015, 11:26 PM   #8
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

There's a van that used to park in my previous neighborhood that had a (ply)wood back and top. I'm pretty sure someone was living full time in it, so I never got too close a look at it, but it seemed like it had lots of usable space. It's probably quite a bit heavier than a fiberglass top. Weight up high isn't great for driving around. However if someone is mostly looking for local space, I don't think wood is inherently a non-starter.
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Old 07-15-2015, 05:57 AM   #9
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Mad science- Fiberglass tops aren't light in any way themselves. Plywood isn't that heavy either. I know it won't be the words lightest thing but if I did decide to make it aerodynamic one might say its better for driving.
Jacktuppvan- Ive seen that one before! thanks for the cool video.
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Old 07-22-2015, 06:26 PM   #10
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Re: Womens Studio and Home on Wheels

Greetings Caroline and best wishes to you on the big adventure.

While this forum is my go-to place for van related questions, you might enjoy visiting the "CheapRvLiving" forum for tips/tricks on peeps living/working full time out of their rig/van. Lots of good ppl and knowledge.

Thom's build tip... IF you happen to utilize 3m77 spray adhesive...be sure to tuck your hair in a ball cap or even...gasp...a shower cap. My wife found that out the hard way during our build.

: ) Thom
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