Helpful ReplyHot!Another step van build here in the City Of Salt!

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mofood
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2012/03/03 23:05:26 (permalink)

Another step van build here in the City Of Salt!

Well, I waited to get a post count up with the intent of starting my very own thread. I'm going to host some pics and try to verbalize the content as I go. Bare with me, I've never posted a build thread before. I've documented this build for my own reference, and maybe it will benefit others who would like to start a business like this. I started with a reasonable business plan, a budget, did a lot of testing, and did a lot of research before I jumped into this project. I had a hard time finding any real "how to build a food truck" info until I found this website. Must say I'm glad Roadfood is on the www. I have a strong background in tinkering, and a little formal education in the tinkering trade. Blah, blah, blah...on with it!

Found a truck that would work for me in Seattle in early November. Booked a flight with a good bro, paid the man, and ended up with a 1996 International model 652, Utilimaster body, 113k miles,16 ft workspace (measures just under), T444E motor with Allison four speed delivering the power to the wheels. Nothing in the truck but plywood walls, Kinedyne load rails and load bar. Drove home via Portland because the passes outside of Seattle were sketchy with recent snowfall. Plus, I have a couple buddies Portlandia
Here's the truck just up the hill from Portland:

She ran good, and held the governed speed of 64 mph all the way home. Up hills, and on the flats. Always 64 mph... Here we are outside Portland.
This is the only inside pic I have of the bulkhead, and driver cockpit:

Bulkhead will be the first modification. You can't see in the pic that I have on noise cancelling headphones. These were a Godsend, as this truck was LOUD. An empty aluminum box with a rattling load bar, and sliding bulkhead door banging on it's tracks! If you're going to drive an empty step van 800+ miles, get yourself a set of noise cancelling headphones. The two of us could talk and listen to music with them on, and not hear each other at all with them off. Amazing
One night in Portland, and another 17 hours of driving later, I landed back home in SLC.
post edited by mofood - 2012/05/08 14:21:55
#1
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/03 23:21:50 (permalink) ☄ Helpful
Well I'm a fan with the 3rd line "I started with a reasonable business plan, a budget, did a lot of testing, and did a lot of research before I jumped into this project." That is the way to start any project. Now I'm anxious to see your pictures.
jack
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/03 23:58:40 (permalink)
Well a center door in the bulkhead wouldn't work for me. I wanted a sink on the passenger side of the bulkhead, with the sliding door on the driver side of the vehicle. Idrew up my layout in advance. This would give me room for a 57" sink, and hand wash sink on the passenger side. So, I disassembled the bulkhead, and took the expanded steel off the aluminum frames. I will reuse the aluminum frames after some refurb. No need to re-invent the wheel.
Here's the frames out of the attachments, and sliding door out in the next pic:

They were pretty beat up, and required some straightening, and later, some welding and reinforcing.
I'll blaze through the next few photos real quick, although, it took me a while to get through this process. Ended up doing a lot more work to meet my original goals for this bulkhead..
Sliding section with track:

This door ^ was broken, and bent. Removed expanded steel from all three sections. Added some tubing and started welding using a buddies very nice Miller Mig. Bought a spool gun and argon tank to do some Al welding. Squiggly!! I'm a decent welder, but it's been years, and years, and years...This is 1"x1"x1/16" tubing. Bought this at a local supplier in the remnants aisle:

 
Had to add structure to the driver's side. I'm moving the fixed frame to the center, so there is nothing supporting the slider track, and the mass of the sliding door on the driver side wall.

So, 1"x2"x1/8" tubing is my choice. I'll be using this product throughout the build. I chose it for it's versatility, and strength. This way I can buy full size sticks (21') and save some money piece parting my materials.
Added a support on the driver side wall:
 



Attached the support rail back to the ceiling, and replaced the fixed sections on the center and passenger side. I used self tapping screws to attach to existing angle aluminum, and to the stout ceiling. It seems that these trucks are built with rivets and self tappers. I love it.


I wanted the sliding door to look cool, so I sourced some leftover aluminum tread plate from the remnants pile again. I would later find that it's much more economical to just buy whole sheets from the metal suppliers. But, i was on a roll, and wanted to keep moving. Live and learn.
I pieced together the door covering. 1/16" tread plate, Al:

And attached it to the slider. This time I used some smaller self tappers to attach diamond plate to the frame. I filled in the frame sections with foam board, and called it good:

Bulkhead rebuilt.
 
post edited by mofood - 2012/03/04 02:33:29
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/04 00:29:30 (permalink)
I forgot to mention, when I got the truck home, and the plywood and load rails out, I cleaned the livin' shiite out of it. Bleach and water mixture, push broom, scrubbies, and a hose. Then a squeegee to get excess water out. Floors, walls, and ceiling.
This part of the build went very slowly. A lot of planning, and very little mechanical work happened mid Nov thru Dec. I did, however drive down to Phoenix to buy a generator out of a burned RV. More on that later.
Meanwhile, I needed some more visual gratification. What better way to make a truck your own besides cutting a GIANT hole in the side of the truck! Cut some aluminum with structural supports included. Turns out this wasn't that hard. I used a drill to for my starting points, and an old craftsman jigsaw with a fine tooth bimetal blade to do the damage.
I'll  just post the pics:

Lots of measuring, and lots of rational behind where I'm cutting this hole. It took me days before I finally made the penetration!

 

Used 3/16" basic aluminum rivets to secure the service door to the truck. Lined everything up, clamped the door in place, match drilled the door frame holes through the van body, and riveted in place..cake

Don't forget to silicone/seal the service door frame before final installation. Ask me how I know..
 
post edited by mofood - 2012/03/04 02:38:32
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/04 02:12:31 (permalink)
Mo your pic's are missing
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/04 02:39:38 (permalink)
Hopefully, I fixed all the pics.
Meanwhile I lost a whole post..
Gotta get some sleep, lots of work to do tomorrow
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Vic Cardenas
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/04 14:18:14 (permalink)
Nice to see your build! I can see the pics. Can't wait for more!
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/05 12:30:08 (permalink)
Next up is my water heater. Chose a 6 gal propane tank style heater. Location would be on the non service side (driver) under chassis. No need to take up room in the workspace. And no hot surface for an unsuspecting customer. This will be the farthest run for any plumbing at about 5-6 ft. All other plumbing will be isolated to the passenger side bulkhead. The interior plumbing will be one of the final tasks.
So, I made some simple 1x1x1/8" angle steel supports to suspend the tank. Cut appropriate lengths with mr. Grindy (4.5" angle grinder). Drilled 1/4" holes on my drill press. Deburred and cleaned the surfaces. Coated with truck bed liner. Used stainless allthread for vertical members. Again, lined everything up, making sure not to drill through the channel part of the floor. The access door position would be a result of the hanging placement. Again, measure twice, cut once..this went pretty quick:

I put 3/4 shop plywood above and below the heater for a stable platform. These would later be coated with Kilz, and the heater will be surrounded with additional pinkboard. The pinkboard will act as additional insulation, as well as protect from road debris.

This heater is installed from the inside out, then, bend the flanges against the body of the truck. You can barely see the flanges unbent in the photo above.
There is a pretty basic remote switch to turn this unit on. It fires electronically from a 12 V source. I made a wiring harness to go from the water heater to the area where I will have a small 12 V control panel. I had a bunch of spools of wire that a buddy gave me years ago that will work great. Also, I got a jumble of protective wire sheathing from a damaged freight store in town for very cheap. Pics should show the process relatively well. The harness will go back into the chassis directly above the h2o heater through a hole I drilled very close to the wall. We'll see the wire in the workspace later..


Water heater in, not plumbed.
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Vic Cardenas
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/05 13:30:27 (permalink)
That's a pretty smart way to integrate the water heater. Is that model easy to evacuate? Are you planning on running in the winter at all?
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/05 17:40:06 (permalink)
Vic, Yes I'll run it all winter. I'll put provisions on in order to drain the tank if we have the need. You know how it is here, very seldom does a bottle of water freeze outside my house. But there are those days it does freeze.
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Vic Cardenas
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/05 20:30:00 (permalink)
Just be careful. I had some copper pipes burst on a night that just dipped below freezing. I thought I had purged all the water out, but there was some trapped inside somehow.
 
   
post edited by Vic Cardenas - 2012/03/05 20:32:21
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/06 13:45:54 (permalink)
I wanted to put plywood on the floor to help insulate, and damp some noise on the interior of the truck. I went to the hardware store and bought 1/2 sanded ply. A good buddy will help me with this project. He happens to be a furniture maker/carpenter. So, 1/2 hardware store ply isn't going to work for him. We go to the local "good" wood supplier, and come home with 3/4" shop grade ply. Surprisingly, not much of a price difference at all, and much better quality. I'd recommend finding your local "good" wood supplier.
 
The truck has a small unsupported section of floor between the wheel wells. This was pretty dented and concave. Before the floor gets laid down, this section will be leveled with bondo. I thought about replacing the section, but I thought it was unnecessary. It was still stiff, and with 3/4" ply on top would be plenty strong for many moons.
Pics:


This would take about 3 gallons of bondo
After a days cure, we start laying it down:

PL construction adhesive (polyurethane flexible glue), and self tapping countersink screws will hold the floor down.
One thing to note, I went around the floor and caulked the aluminum wherever I could.
This is how the pro's cut ply :)

And floor:

This^ is looking forward toward the driver side. You can see where the water heater remote line comes in to the truck.

Oops, a little teaser.. I went to Phoenix and did a little generator shopping somewhere in this time frame. Installing this beast would be my next challenge. It would prove to be a formidable opponent!
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/09 01:00:57 (permalink)
The generator.
I was planning to put a propane generator in the truck initially. A was advised by a food vendor contact that relied on a generator (in another state), and a friend with a grundle of knowledge about power. Both advised me to look for a liquid cooled diesel. There was talk of longevity, altitude, and sine waves. In the end I was convinced, and began a search for a generator in my town, and all the neighboring regions. I found a burned RV salvaged unit in Phoenix for a reasonable price, and made the journey.
 
The generator was in house, but a lot of work was needed to implement this unit into my step van. I wanted a generator that was "built in" to the truck. I toyed with the idea of mounting the generator half in the workspace, and half slung under the chassis. This would have been a lot of work, and, I don't think I would have gained much. The generator still would protrude into the floor space no matter how far I hung it below the floor. So, I decided to locate it on top of the floor, driver side, at the back of the workspace. The pic in the post above shows the basic location.
 
I found a suitable generator access door on ebay:

You can see my trace of the generator location. That was the first of many sharpie ink trails for this generator!
I would put the access door in before the generator infrastructure. This would allow me to virtually access all four sides of the generator during the install.
Cut the hole:
You can see my starter holes, done with the handy dewalt in the pic. I would use a jigsaw to do the cutting. You can barely see the old craftsman next to the drill ^

Oh mr. grindy, what would I do without you
As you can see, I cut through a major structural artery:

The horizontal stiffener. I need to recoup this structural loss. I will header out this hole with my 1"x2"x1/8" tubing. This is similar to adding a header to a window, or a door in a lumber structure.
A little mitering, measuring, positioning, and clamping:

I predrilled the tube on the drill press undersize so I can match drill through the van wall, from the inside out, at the same undersize hole. I would then drill the final hole from the outside in.
Fixturing:


I would put a vertical section in next to the cut as well. It would make a good anchor for the enclosure later.
Cleaned up the vinyl before popping the 3/16 aluminum rivets:

Looks crappy, I know. I would get better at this. The rivet pattern was planned btw
And install the door, again 3/16 aluminum rivets

Silicone the door before installing! If you look hard, you can see I sealed the horizontal extrusion with a couple of diamond plate caps I fabbed up.
Inside:

This was the easiest part of the generator install..
#13
mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/12 03:37:28 (permalink)
The generator took a lot longer than I planned for.
I bought the installation manual from the manufacturer..
Measured, and cut. It's a liquid cooled gen. It gets all it's radiator intake from under the truck, and expels its heat under the chassis as well.
Made some measurements, and cut some holes:

A lot of planning went into this before I made any penetrations..
I cut a some structural members  so  needed to beef things up.
I started with a couple of aluminum c-chanels

Lookin up^
distribute the load:

 
#14
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/12 14:53:12 (permalink)
sub'd. what did you have to give for the generator? anxious to see your progress
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/14 01:20:25 (permalink)
Reinforcing the floor was mandatory. The floor is the structure. I snapped some photos of this ingenious flooring. If any of you have seen the Modern Marvels Food Truck episode, you may have seen this structure.

The flooring is simply extruded aluminum that locks together.

So you can imagine, if you cut through a bunch of transverse rails, you loose the interlocking structure. This will reduce the stiffness of the chassis/workspace in the generator's location.
This is why I beefed up this corner of the truck.
Continuing with the generator install..
The generator will be a completely sealed compartment from the interior of the truck. Everything shy of a motor overhaul can be done from the access door, and the under side of the truck. Holes are in place for oil change, even access holes for the fuel pump screws are prescribed in the installation diagram. More measuring, and cutting.
I also sealed each cutout from leaking into the compartment underneath the generator. Kilz was applied to combat moisture on the wood, and seal where the plywood was cut.

The big round hole is the oil drain access. I cut this with a 2" bimetal hole saw (and a big old 1/2" chuck Makita plug in drill). The plug that came out of the hole saw was a sight! I don't have a pic, but imagine a perfectly round cross section of the structural extrusion shown above.
Also, the batter cable, and fuel supply and return are in place in the picture above.
One final generator position (I've moved the generator into and out of position more times than I'd like to remember!)

Exhaust, fueling, and battery still to go
 
 
 
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/14 01:40:18 (permalink)
I forgot to mention that I caulked the plywood edges before mounting the generator. The more levels I can seal moisture from getting into my infrastructure, the better. You can see the goo in one of the photos in the last post.
 
Exhaust
The muffler terminates in the same opening as the radiator exhaust air. The Generator has multiple options for exhaust direction. The exhaust flange I got with this unit was a 90* bend that exited out of one of the holes you can see in the last picture I posted. You can see one hole toward the back, and one toward the passenger side (right by the shop vac nozzle).
 
I wanted the exhaust to go straight down, then out the side. I'll plug the factory holes, as they are a direct path to the outdoors (critters!), and a path in for the radiator exhaust.
I had an exhaust shop bend me an "L" piece that would suit my needs. I cut the 90* bend off the exhaust pipe flange that I had. Set it up:

And squirted some metal at it

Here is what it looks like installed

This is one of the better pictures of the reinforcement structure.
You can also see the stubs for the fuel supply and return lines in this pic, as well as some of the details I've left out of this thread
That would be the next step in the generator saga.
 
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/18 13:55:08 (permalink)
I decided not to fuel the generator from the same tank as the truck.
Picked up two marine fuel tanks from the classifieds

New old stock marine tanks, cheap. Five gallons. Came with fuel pick up tube, and gauge sending unit.
They needed a fuel return bung, however. Bought the bung off Mcmastercarr.
Welded it in, and pressure tested for leaks

I'll mount the tank using the same technique as the water heater. Couple of simple 1x1x1/8" angles supported by 1/4" allthread. This time a piece of rubber would insulate the contact surface.

Lumber would space the tank down for better access. Fuel cap was from an internet marine site. Turns out I should've chosen a different style cap for this application. But it will work for now

Mounted

I made another simple wire loom for the fuel sending unit. You can see the light coming through for the fill access hole I cut in the body.
Pulled the hose, and wire in the floor channels, and secured everything

I'll mount the second tank later if I need the capacity.
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/18 13:55:58 (permalink)
Sorry, I tried to make the pics smaller, but they came out the same.
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/18 14:41:45 (permalink)
Fuel fill access cutout, bottom left

Battery
The generator battery will be used for the limited 12V systems I will have on the rig.
I'll mount it in it's own box just about underneath the generator itself.
Battery box using 18g mild steel sheet, a harbor freight brake, a welder, some rubber sheet remnants I had, and truck bed liner


Welded with holes in flange, cable pass through, and vent


Rubber liner, Costco battery in the background

 
Now the supporting mount. This will mount to  three 1/2" bumper bolts in the back drivers corner of the truck.
Some scrap angle from my friends pile, chop saw, drill press, welder, rusty metal primer, and truck bed liner.
Did I mention a simple sketch, LOTS of planning and measuring, then building it is the easy part

The battery box will slide in from the outside of the body, rest on the mount, strapped, and the flange riveted to the face. A simple cover will seal it.
 
 
 
 
 
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DWags541
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/18 15:31:52 (permalink)
Great work. Its a joy to follow.
 
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/22 02:16:22 (permalink)
Mofood - thanks for the build pics etc. 
 
could I ask where did you get your service door/window and generator door?  did you fab them up or is there somewhere that sells these pieces pre-made ready to "bolt in" 
 
 
#22
mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/22 10:09:36 (permalink)
Do a search for service window. There is lots of information on this site about these things.

I would not recommend the place I bought my service door from. I don't want to deface a company publicl.
Challenger Door, however, comes highly recommended on this site. I wish I would have dealt with them.
The generator door came off an eBay seller. I believe the seller is Optical Trailers. It's imported, but much higher quality than my US built service window. Search "generator access door" on eBay. 24" x 36".
post edited by mofood - 2012/03/22 10:12:22
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/23 08:56:46 (permalink)
Good thread and great pics.
thanks
jack
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/25 01:55:35 (permalink)
The generator was about ready to go. Time to move on to something a little more visually gratifying.
I had the materials to sheet the cockpit bulkhead and door pockets. 4 sheets of 24 ga S/S 4'x8' sheets I picked up from the damaged freight liquidator, and 4 sheets of 1/2" ply I bought for the floor and didn't use.
I used self drillers for the wood to aluminum. Spent some time locating my hardware placements for the door pockets. Lots of important clearances involved there.
Insulated where I could. Just open cell here (box to hold insulation while adhesive dries)

seal where you can, floor here before ply

And

 
 
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/25 02:05:36 (permalink)
Cut some S/S sheet using ferrous metal blade and skil saw. Measure twice, cut once

Predrilled the S/S sheets for the screws to attach to the wood. Self drillers don't go through S/S, not easily if at all. You don't want to drill in place if you don't have to.
PL adhesive will help hold the sheet to the wall as well

Nice T-trim for the stainless. Restaurant supply store is where these came from. Not cheap, but nice

Pre-filled them with silicone, hence the goo
And

A few dents and dings in these sheets, but most would be covered with the sinks, and plumbing

Night time creates some funky light with the phone cameras
Picked the sink up from a local discount/use restaurant supply shop. Matched an online price for this  57" sink.
  Corners and edges will be trimmed out later
post edited by mofood - 2012/03/25 02:08:22
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/03/30 10:43:06 (permalink)
Theses photos are an excellent resource. Your build seems to going very well!
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mofood
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/04/01 01:26:53 (permalink)
Now onto the main workspace. I felt the 48" centers on the vertical studs was a little too far apart for the equipment I wanted to hang on the wall. Not to mention I could flex the wall with a hefty push from the inside.
I will add a vertical member at each 24" location between the factory structure.
This will be the same 1"x2"x1/8" Al tubing I have, and planned for. Pre-drill undersize on the drill press (I'm using 3/16" rivets, 5/32" drill for pre-drilling). You can see it in the background loaded ready to drill:

Measure..measure. I would leave a lot of clearance. These measurements were easy to round off numbers. We're not tying to the ceiling or floor, just the wall.
My new friend, the long armed riveteur..

 
Moved to structural rivets. I thought they looked cool, and I know they're strong. They clamp like a...you know what.
I lined everything up, measured twice, made some marks, and began match drilling holes from the inside out. One person (thanks neighbor!) held and match drilled, and I followed from the outside, drilled 3/16", and popped the rivet from the outside.
Here's what happened:

Then, more

See the wheel well at the bottom, still drivers side. You can kinda see the rivet pattern. I guess I didn't take any photos of the outside during this..can't seem to find anything. We'll see it later.
And other side

Next would be insulation. I learned here on RF that you wanna use closed cell foam (if you're going that direction) so as to not hold moisture.
So, pink board.


Closed cell foam. Hopefully it will help sound, and temperature.
 
 
 
post edited by mofood - 2012/04/01 01:56:47
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  • Joined: 2011/10/12 16:29:00
  • Location: SLC, UT
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Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/04/01 01:52:44 (permalink)
I sheeted with 1/4" sanded ply. I was concerned with space, and weight. After talking to my state fire Marshal, I decided I'd go with ply. I have since found other methods that would be acceptable to me. Hindsight is 20/20 :)
Fastened the ply to the Al with self drilling countersunk screws. Much like a Tex wood to metal screw. But of course, a local fastener supplier was much more economical and helpful.
One crux move:

Don't forget, I sealed at every chance I got.


 
Time to pay full price for stainless. Still, you have to find the local source for materials. I found a huge difference in pricing, and a significant discount for bulk purchases at the right shop. None the less, big money to make these interiors mimic their brick and mortar rivals.
Edit: counterparts, not rivals
post edited by mofood - 2012/04/01 03:50:01
#29
mofood
Cheeseburger
  • Total Posts : 117
  • Joined: 2011/10/12 16:29:00
  • Location: SLC, UT
  • Status: offline
Re:Another step van build here in the City Of Salt! 2012/04/01 03:44:14 (permalink)
Stainless.
Again, I cut with a ferrous blade on a skil saw. It cuts straight, and fast. But, you have to be very careful with the initial cut angles. Correcting direction mid cut is not gonna work.
This time I felt I had to drill the stainless in place. I needed to make sure I hit the studs I put in, and wasn't quite sure how everything would line up.
Some nice stainless button heads would do the trick. From my local supplier of course. Pre-drilled into the studs, and, just punched holes in the stainless in the spots that would go into the plywood only. Nice T-trim pieces for joining the stainless. I gave each screw a squirt from the silicone gun.
A little PL for each sheet

And

Leave the film on for a while. Couldn't wait to see it, but lot's of work to be done. I didn't want to scratch it up too bad.
 
 
#30
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