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TeleSteve 11-25-2015 07:31 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
Added final layer of insulation. (Thermozite)

Finished wall panels going back in around gray vinyl trim pieces to match factory plastic trim.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 07:35 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
Assembled cabinets going in with lots of prewiring.

Tan vinyl added to wall/ceiling trim piece and installed.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 07:42 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
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Started on counter top.

Sticking the laminate to the board.

Trimming the laminate.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 07:46 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
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Adding the bull nosing

Counter assembled ready for install.

And installed.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 07:58 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
More of counter and cabinet.

And after ordering a 10 gallon water tank from Amazon that showed up and looked like a quality tank, but didn't match the described dimensions at all. I am still waiting to hear back from the seller A1Customs. So I called Ronco, and Rich was able to expedite an order for me and in two days I had a 12 gallon tank that fit perfectly in my space at my door. I also had a 4" top inspection port that could also be used to fill the tank with jugs. the price was about half of that listed on there website.

With the Webasto in and wired it was time to make the fuel connection. So I dropped the fuel tank and added a pickup tube.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 08:03 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
I also made the frame bracket for the 8D AGM battery.

all painted and ready to go in.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 08:07 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
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More battery frame and battery going in.

I need to take some better pictures of it in place and all the wiring.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 08:15 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
With a water tank it was time for some plumbing. I started by cutting the holes in the floor for the coolant lines going to the heat exchanger. I used 3/4" waterproof strain reliefs for the pass through. I used the same ones for the #2 wire coming in to the inverter and 1/2" for the 120v incoming wire.

Here is the start to the plumbing. 1/2" copper to connect silicone coolant lines under the van up to the heat exchanger in the van. I used 1/2" pex for water lines. The silver valve is a tempering valve to keep the hot water at a tame temperature.

TeleSteve 11-25-2015 08:20 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
More plumbing. Drain valves, hot, cold, and tank, these will get tied together and ran through the floor with 1/4" tube.

boywonder 11-26-2015 08:14 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
Nice! You've been busy.......are you using cherry plywood?

The strain reliefs for floor penetration are a great idea.

TeleSteve 11-26-2015 10:01 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan

Originally Posted by boywonder
Nice! You've been busy.......are you using cherry plywood?

The strain reliefs for floor penetration are a great idea.

Alder plywood, but I used a cherry stain.

TeleSteve 11-26-2015 10:16 AM

2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
A shot of the bed made up, I still need to get the cushions covered, but they have a piece of carpet over them for this first trip.
A few of the shower.
Switch panel
ACR and 150 breaker/disconnect at engine battery.
Connections at house battery w/ 150 amp breaker/disconnect.
House fuse panel w/ 100 amp breaker disconnect.
Inverter remote and webasto smart temp thermostat.

RandallDee 11-27-2015 09:49 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan

Not sure how I missed this thread. Nice work and very nice van.

TeleSteve 11-30-2015 11:30 AM

2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
Just got home from the vans first 7 day trip. So far everything that is done is working great. I didn't have enough time to plumb the heater hoses back to the heat exchanger so no hot water, but the rest of the plumbing and electrical worked great. We had to be in Tucson this last Friday- Saturday for a family event so we made a trip out of it. We left last Monday after making the final tweaks to the van including filling and testing the water system for the first time. While driving to the Grand Canyon we spent the first night in the Mojave desert before pushing the next day to GCNP. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the park exploring and taking in the big ditch.
Even the dog took in the scenery.
The Webasto heater got some use with the below freezing temps, although the Thermostat doesn't seem to be working, it is either on or off, I will have to look into that more now that I home.
We then made a short drive over to check out Arizona Snowbowl. We had just planned to park somewhere on Forest Service land, but ran into and old friend who invited us to Thanksgiving dinner at the Hart Prairie Preserve. So after dinner we just stayed and camped on the preserve. this place was beautiful right on the North slope of The San Francisco Peaks.
This shot was taken at night by moonlight with the ski resort in the back ground.
The next morning after -6 degree F night, but the heater kept us toasty warm.
The old cabin where we shared Thanksgiving with one old and about 20 new friends. We then spent most of the day skiing at Snowbowl before making the drive down to Tucson.
We spent the next two nights with family and friends in Tucson before making the 12 hour drive home yesterday in holiday traffic.
Overall it was a great trip and my wife who has been skeptical of this whole van thing is ready to take another trip. I still have a lot of work to do to get it finished but at least it is usable at this point. My next projects will be to get the hot water working and build and plumb the sink cabinet on the side door. I also need to finish the door panels and the rest of the trim pieces.

tj4861 12-01-2015 11:44 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
this is amazing. have to ask, what is that bench/bed out of

accrete 12-05-2015 07:06 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
Very professional job Steve.

Oh, and for any who may come this way....

Originally Posted by TeleSteve
A little 3M spray adhesive was used to help hold the denim insulation and reflectix in place...

Take it from one who's been there...make sure your dearly beloved wears a shower cap or similar if she is going to help with the 3M spray application ; )


PS...and if you don' prepared to buy her roses and take her to her fav restaurant for a make-up-dinner date.

TeleSteve 12-05-2015 09:03 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan

Originally Posted by tj4861
this is amazing. have to ask, what is that bench/bed out of

Not really sure, I bought it used from someone who works at SMB Fresno. He said it was a take out from one of there current projects. The head rests had "extreme sports vehicle" embroidered in them. The seat is made by Atwood.
I don't have any pics at the moment, but I just deconstructed the whole seat and cut off the mounts for the headrests and armrests. The medal head rest mounts were a huge hard spot in the middle of the bed that had to be avoided while sleeping. They are now cut off and I am shaping new higher density foam for it. I ordered the OEM wicker seat fabric from Detroit. If it comes in time, it goes in to the upholsterer to get recovered to match the factory front seats this coming Thursday. The rear platform cushions will get the same wicker and vinyl covers.

TeleSteve 12-11-2015 11:32 PM

Replacing the foam on the used bench seat/bed to get ready for new upholstery. I went with 70 density 3" foam on the seat and 70 density 4" foam over the back platform boards. I built up the edges wrapping the frame with 1/2" 40 density (green in photos).
While the seats and cushions were at the upholstery shop I worked on the rear door panels and speaker install.
Building the box for the cubby hole and wrapping it with carpet.
The panels are 1/4" Baltic birch wrapped in vinyl. the door curves where I wanted to mount the speakers so I made tapered trim rings wrapped in gray carpet.

The upholstery shop knocked the seat and cushions out in two days and I just picked them up this afternoon. I bought OEM neutral wicker to match the front seats. I googled and printed out some pictures of factory express bench seats so they could make the seat look factory. I wanted them more flat with no bolsters so it would be flatter in bed mode.
I am pretty happy with the outcome.
The rolls you see under the seat are the black out window screens I made by sandwiching Reflectix with black foam lined headliner on one side and automotive carpet on the other. All three layers were glued together with contact cement and then I sewed 1" nylon webbing all around the edges. I will post some more pictures when I can, it's been raining and snowing here lately.
The wood pieces next to them are the start of the rear corner trim pieces.

rockbender 12-14-2015 11:17 AM


the door curves where I wanted to mount the speakers so I made tapered trim rings wrapped in gray carpet.
Of course you did!

As always, nice clean work and great use of space. The seat turned out great! Our foam setup is nearly identical and I sleep so well down there. Using the stock fabric was a great idea too!

Any issues or complaints with the Webasto?

TeleSteve 12-15-2015 08:53 AM


Originally Posted by rockbender (Post 165727)
Of course you did!

As always, nice clean work and great use of space. The seat turned out great! Our foam setup is nearly identical and I sleep so well down there. Using the stock fabric was a great idea too!

Any issues or complaints with the Webasto?

The Webasto is working great. I added the Smartemp thermostat which doesn't work as well as I hoped. It takes a ambient temp reading at the t-stat for the display temp, but still uses the temp of the intake air for the set temperature. So the heater can be set at 60 and will keep running until it displays around 75 since the t-stat is up high and the intake is down low. There is an offset adjustment of up to 9 degrees but that will never be the same.
i mostly use the van at high elevations. I was concerned that the heater was running rich so I tried to make the altitude adjustment with the Smartemp unsuccessfully. So I hooked up the original t-stat and made the adjustment successfully. Then reinstalled the Smartemp. So far it seems to be working better, but haven't had a trip with it since the adjustment.

TeleSteve 12-15-2015 09:06 AM

After calling Webasto tech support and leaving messages with no response. I finally.found instructions for the altitude adjustment over at on this page scroll down to the last two posts.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:28 PM

I guess I haven't been doing a good job of keeping this thread updated. So here is what has been done since my last real update.
I finished the trim panels around the back doors. Baltic birch shaped and joined to match the curves and then wrapped in vinyl.
I picked up a set of interior trim panels for the barn doors. No windows so I made a panel out of Sintra board covered on one side with vinyl and reflectix on the other to fill in the window space. The sheet medal was first covered with the foil and foam insulation. I picked up a set of junkyard doors with windows, but I need to do some paint and body work before they go on. (Low priority). I also added a small LED light on the door that works for outside light when the door is open and provide light for the sink cabinet when I get to that. We tend to use this little light a lot when we don't want the bright overhead lights.

I made some panels to cover the upper half of the rear doors. Same construction as the side doors except I was out of grey vinyl so I used some grey carpet instead. This was a last minute addition before leaving for a trip and I was trying to get all the insulation and bare panels covered up. I will possibly change these to grey vinyl at some point. They are attached with Velcro strips.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:29 PM

I got the heat exchanger all plumbed up with silicone heater hose so the hot water is working. I used an ACDelco 15-5533 Heater bypass valve tapped into the heater hoses to control the coolant flow through the heat exchanger.

This valve is controlled by a switch on the dash.
While I was at it I added the radio switch you see next to it. This is a Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT) rocker switch. It switches the radio between startng battery and house battery. In the down position the constant and key on power are both connected to the radio as normal, when it is flipped up they are both switched over to a circuit off the house battery. This allows the radio to be used while parked with out using the starting battery or needing a key in the ignition.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:31 PM

The van has been working great and my wife and I used it a lot this last winter. I spent over 60 nights in it traveling for skiing and I have put over 15k miles traveling in it. During February and early March I lived out of it for a month, 2 weeks with my wife. This trip took us through seven states, British Columbia and Alberta. We hit twelve ski resorts, spent several days backcountry skiing, and got some heli skiing in BC. The best part was between the Powder Alliance and Mountain Collective passes I only paid for one $25 industry ticket at Whitefish.
We really had no agenda except for hitting Grand Targhee so I could compete at the Telemark Big Mountain Freeride Comp. We originally set out to hit some Northwest resorts, but by the time we got to Oregon most of them were getting rained on, so we headed inland through Idaho up to interior BC. We then went east to Lake Louise and then back down through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. My wife flew home from SLC and I went back up to Montana and spent a week around the Bozeman area before heading down to Grand Targhee for the comp. Then I spent a few days in Tahoe before heading back home. Pretty much we just went where the forecasts looked the best.
There was several nights below zero and I think the coldest was around -15F. The heater and insulation kept us nice and warm and I was able to keep the water system filled the entire time.
Gas prices were great compared to Calif. especially around Idaho

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:32 PM

There was a few problems along the way. I was having some issues with the webasto gasoline heater. It would work for a while but it build up a bunch of carbon and eventually fail to ignite. I have made the altitude adjustments, but it still seems to plug up after about 4 weeks use. I first had issues with it in Tahoe in December so I cleaned it out and leaned it some more for higher altitudes. This lasted until early March towards the end of my long trip, fortunately it was warm enough to get by with out it until I got home. I cleaned it out again and leaned it out some more and it seems to be working since then. I think it tends to plug up when I set the thermostat to really low temps while I am away from the van. At these low temps it runs for such short intervals that it never really gets hot enough to run clean. If I only set it at higher temps it runs for longer periods of time and stays clean
Here is what the inside looks like before cleaning it out.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:33 PM

The other issue I had and I still can't explain. A few times through the winter the van would flash a service engine light and go into reduced power mode. It would list 20 different codes that really had no correlation. I have the Bullydog tuner so I could read the codes and clear them and it would work fine again. This happened maybe 3-4 times over a month. Then while heading south to Jackson Hole it started happening more and more frequently. I went over every thing and couldn't find anything that would cause it. With the tuner I could clear it pretty quickly and keep moving so we setup an appointment at the Chevy dealer in JH but couldn't get in until the next day. They were nice enough to let us camp in there parking lot for the night. The next day we left it with them and took the shuttle to ski at JH. When we got back they couldn't get it to do it again and it hasn't happened again over several thousand miles and 5 months.
My best guess is it had a bad ground or connection somewhere, maybe some water where it shouldn't be, but nothing I could find. I even removed the tuner and restored the factory tune with no change. Maybe the dealer did something to fix it and didn't tell me, they didn't charge me anything.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:36 PM

I had to spend a few days over in Bishop, CA to recert my WFR (wilderness first responder). Since I had to be there in classes for three days I figured we would make a van trip out of it. My wife spent the days I was in class roaming about the area around Bishop and went up to make some turns at Mammoth. The conditions were pretty thin firm snow. We had planned to do some more skiing after my classes were done but the conditions were not inviting.
So instead we went up to the White Mountains and stayed for a couple days and checked out the ancient bristlecone pines. We enjoyed the high desert and views of the Sierra crest from the side we don't see from our home on the west side.
Since a trip was planned I was motivated to get some more projects completed on the van. Funny how that works. So I finished up the last ceiling trim panel over the counter. I made it a small shelf and installed the inverter control panel and solar charge controller display on each end. I am hoping to get the roof rack built so the panels can go on soon.

I also got most of the door galley sink cabinet done, I didn't have enough time or parts to get the door on, but the cabinet is installed and the sink is mostly plumbed. I need a P-trap and have to run the drain back through the door and under the van. To make the cabinet fit tight I ended up cutting the middle out of the factory door panel I picked up. I rebuilt the middle section out of birch plywood and covered it with grey vinyl. This allowed me to put the cabinet closer to the door and bolt directly to the sheet metal. The plastic door panel sat a few inches off the door.
The 3/8" water supply passes from the body to the door using two 1/2" wire strain reliefs and is wrapped in split loom. The water comes from the shower mixer valve so it can be mixed hot and cold. This was to minimize the number of tubes passing out to the door. The faucet is a Watts drinking water faucet used on filtered water systems. The cabinet and counters are the same Alder wood and laminate as the rest of the interior. The door, when I get to it, will match the others with Alder rails and styles wrapping black King Starboard. It will hinge down to create a outside counter for using a single burner stove. I will likely laminate the back of the door with the same laminate as the counters.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:37 PM

Here you can see how much the plastic panel stuck out. I ended up making a pie cut on the sides of the bottom piece, heating and bending it in, and then plastic welding the cuts back together.
Some more pics of the sink and the middle panel I took out.
And as you can see we got our first accumulating snow storm here at home and hope to be roaming in search of powder soon.

TeleSteve 12-01-2016 11:39 PM

Hinges finally arrived for the door galley, so I got the drop down door built and installed. Also moved the shower hose to the cabinet and lengthened the hose. Just need to run the sink drain line, the waterless p-trap I ordered didn't fit the sink drain. May just run without one for now.
Still trying to decide on a latch. The ones I have on the other cabinets and doors would stick out on the counter side of the door. Trying to avoid making the counter less useful. Fortunately the drop down supports keep the door closed for now.

Flux 12-02-2016 10:38 AM

Your cabinet work is awesome!!

86Scotty 12-02-2016 12:35 PM

Thanks for catching up Steve. Really nice work there.


larrie 12-02-2016 05:13 PM

Great progress. The cabinets look great. Where did you get the hinges and struts for the door galley?

TeleSteve 12-02-2016 07:55 PM


Originally Posted by larrie (Post 190616)
Great progress. The cabinets look great. Where did you get the hinges and struts for the door galley?

I got them both from amazon.

SteelheadJones 12-03-2016 04:53 AM

Just read your whole thread. Man I'm sooo envious of all your fab skills!

You mention CLC tiles for sound deadening. Do you have a link or more info?


SteelheadJones 12-03-2016 05:19 AM

And any more details on your shower setup?

Black95 12-03-2016 06:57 AM

Where did you get the hinges and restraints for the drop down door on your sink?

86Scotty 12-03-2016 07:52 AM


Originally Posted by Black95 (Post 190646)
Where did you get the hinges and restraints for the drop down door on your sink?

Post 112 above?

TeleSteve 12-03-2016 08:26 AM


Originally Posted by SteelheadJones (Post 190642)
Just read your whole thread. Man I'm sooo envious of all your fab skills!

You mention CLC tiles for sound deadening. Do you have a link or more info?


I bought them from which appears to have gone out of business. Essentially they are a sound deadening mat like dynamat, fat mat, roadkill, etc... placed in pieces to cover ~25% of each panel. I ran out towards the end and finished using G-mat.

TeleSteve 12-03-2016 08:41 AM

The shower is pretty basic. I have a flat plate heat exchanger for hot water using hot engine coolant. The shower mixer valve is just inside the side doors and the shower hose nozzle is a standard kitchen sink sprayer. It used to come out of a small door just inside the side doors. The sprayer is now coiled up in the back of the galley cabinet. The same line coming from the mixer valve 'T's in the galley cabinet to supply both the sink and shower sprayer. Allowing hot and cold water to both. The tempering valve in the back after the heat exchanger actually works pretty good and I probably could have simplified things and not used the mixer valve. This would of allowed just one water line that would be cold unless the engine was running and the bypass valve was open, then it would automatically mix the water to the set temp.
At this point we just use it outside when privacy and temps allow. I used in the White mountains one night when temps were in the low 30's. We may get privacy enclosure at some point.
We have a small mortar mixing pan that we place in the van for quick wash offs. Still working on a simple curtain solution for inside. The pan fits tightly under the back seat and most of the time is where all our shoes end up. It kind of works like a drawer pulled out to the front.

Black95 12-03-2016 10:45 AM


Originally Posted by 86Scotty (Post 190649)
Post 112 above?

Thanks. I should have finished your thread before I posted my question! I really enjoyed reading and seeing what you have done to your van. I have a 2001 Express that I am working on.

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