4 years ago5,000+ Views
Hey all! I'm refurbishing the interior of my 1985 GMC Vandura, Big Bessie. This is my pride and joy. I absolutely adore this vehicle. It used to be blue with nasty blue carpet. I tore out all the seats (and just left the two front ones) and stripped the entire van down to sheet metal. I painted the doghouse and dashboard white, and put in reclaimed oak hardwood flooring that I picked up at a salvage yard. Here's how I did it: 1. Strip down everything to metal. 2. Sand down/clean off any residue from glue and clean up any surface rust. 3. Plug any and all holes (mainly the holes I had were from the middle and back seats that I won't be putting back). The van is primarily my lumber/camping van, so I don't need those seats. 4. Lay down rattletrap or some other sound deadening material, if you can afford it. It was amazing how much more solid the van seemed with just that alone. 5. Lay down some filler for the ribs in the floor. I used 1/2" polisio foam. Some people use 1/2 plywood. Whatever you want. I used the foam because it offered a certain R-value for insulation. 6. This may be overkill, but I then laid another entire layer of polysio foam. I really want this thing to be quiet and temperate! 7. Lay down some 5/8" OSB. I wouldn't go less than 5/8" if you plan to nail down hardwood. You need enough thickness for the floor nails to gain purchase. I did NOT screw in the OSB to the floor of the van. I wanted to limit the number of holes I put in the van. Since I laid the flooring lengthwise, and cut the OSB to custom fit into all the nooks around wheel wells, gas tank feeds, etc, the wood holds itself in place. This also allows the van to flex without flexing the wood flooring, thus making it more forgiving, in my opinion. 8. Install a layer of Reflectix on top of the OSB. This is a sort of foil-backed bubble wrap that you can get at the big box stores. It helps with noise and acts as a thermal barrier. You can just use duct tape or the reflectix tape to get it in place. 9. Install the hard wood just like you would in a home, with a flooring nailer. You can rent one of these things from a big box store for cheap and they're extremely easy to use. I highly recommend using reclaimed hardwood and not laminates. If you get a gouge (which you probably will!) you'll be able to see the mdf under a laminated wood. Since the hardwood I installed was already used, it already had wear and tear that helps me not be too precious about it. In fact, the scratches and dents really give it character! I can scrape my wood along it at the lumber yard and not worry about exposing mdf or some other non-wood material. Oak is extremely hard and durable and should last forever. It's also cheap at architectural salvage yards. 10. Enjoy! It's amazing how well the van handles now with that extra weight on the floor. Some folks who refurbish vans worry about weight issues, particularly because they already don't get great gas mileage. Weight isn't an issue for me because I don't plan to have any furniture in my van. I use it to haul lumber primarily for my fine art business (I do woodworking fine art) and when the hubby and I go camping, we'll just sleep in our sleeping bags in the back!
@darcydashwood - Yes! I did install a second "house battery" and a charger to hook up to shore power when camping. All we need is the sleeping bags and we're ready to go! The funniest part of my van is that I sold our Prius and used the money to buy this thing. So we went from like 49 MPG to about 10 in 5 minutes. LOL
Woah! I had no idea so much went into the flooring, @McDoogle! I'm jealous too, @kristenadams... I can't wait to see more of your work on the van.
@kristenadams - Ha! The only reason why I even dared to work on this van like this is because I got it for dirt cheap and since it's all metal, I could always take it to a welder if I really messed something up. I'm not a mechanic or auto body person; just learning as I go. I love that I can look up anything I need to on the Internet tho! But the toyota sounds like it's prob way to nice to be messin' with.
I'm so jealous! I have a feeling this wont work in my toyoto sienna...
With a few adjustments this can be customized to a camping van. By the way, the end result of your remodeling looks very sturdy. Great work.