Final Prep Work Before Camper Van Build

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In my last post, Van to Camper Conversion, I talked about and showed what I did in the early stages of the camper prep work. Today, I want to show you the final steps I took to complete the prep work before starting the camper van build.

Ladder Rack Removal

One of the big challenges I faced was removing the ladder rack and determining if the holes left in the roof could be reused or would I need to seal them up. Here is what the ladder rack looked like:

ladder rack removal

Ladder Rack (click to enlarge)

Here is the video of me removing the ladder rack:

The ladder rack turned out to be a fairly easy removal. I actually thought it would be a bit heavier. 🙂 Unfortunately, the ladder left behind some nasty holes:

ladder rack holes

Ladder rack holes (click to enlarge)

I initially covered the holes with blue painters tape:

rack holes blue tape

Painter’s Tape (click to enlarge)

Later, we cleaned the ladder rack holes, filled them with a white silicone caulk which matched the paint, was waterproof and blended in with the van.

Ladder Rack Holes Cleaned

Holes Cleaned (click to enlarge)

astro van ladder rack holes silicon caulk

Silicon Caulk (click to enlarge)

Flooring and Rivet Removal

The exciting but also frustrating thing about starting a project like this is the unknowns. After removing the ladder rack, I decided I should go ahead and also remove the floor mat. To my surprise, the floor mat was glued down to multiple pieces of sheet metal which were riveted to the van. Hmmmm…..rivet removal. Time to learn something new.

astro van mat removal

Riveted Sheet Metal (click to enlarge)

It was time to pull out my tools and get busy with rivets! I used a Black & Decker Drill, a Black & Decker Drill Set, a Stanley Punch Set, a Mallet and a rag.

rivet removal tools

Rivet Removal Tools (click to enlarge)

Below is the video of my FUN (LOL!!) with rivet removal:

Final Steps of Prep Work Before Camper Van Build

Before getting started with the build, we needed to prepare the walls, ceiling and floors for insulation and flooring or siding. One wall had an old security tube used to lock up a spare set of keys. We needed to cut that out, so we pulled out the Dremel Tool to do the job. Here is my Dad hard at work:

dremel tool cutting out security tube

Dad using the Dremel (click to enlarge)

Since this van was an ex-phone company van, it had 6 antennas of some sort on the roof and miles of cabling in the van (maybe a bit of an exaggeration). 🙂 We needed to pull down the antennas, trace the cabling and remove any excess cabling/wiring that had nothing to do with the van operation. This was quite a task. In the process, we found this little gadget:

driver performance tracker

Driver Tracker (click to enlarge)

We checked their website and the device is worth about $150 and was used to track the driver’s driving habits. It was hooked up to the van’s computer input and stored data on the following: vehicle/engine speed; odometer/distance traveled; instant fuel rate and total fuel; diagnostic trouble codes; emissions; and ignition, brake switch and seatbelt status. Pretty cool!
Check out more on this device here:

Check out the video below for a look at all the final prep work we completed as we get closer to the start of the build:

Well, that raps up the prep work on the van…..Finally!! Now, we can start building the interior. Woot!!!

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6 Responses to Final Prep Work Before Camper Van Build

  1. Kent M March 20, 2015 at 6:09 AM #

    This van has turned out to be quite a project. What is your estimated completion date? Do you have a trip planned?

    • Troy Wiedeman March 22, 2015 at 1:18 PM #

      Well, currently we are about to head into the last week of March, so I would expect to have the van completed sometime in April or early May. The goal is to have it done by the summer, so early June at the latest.

      I don’t have a trip planned yet, but I will do some short test runs in the area to test out all the equipment before going on a long trip.

      Thanks for the questions, Kent.

  2. Dan March 25, 2015 at 7:30 AM #

    I just purchased a 93 Safari and had dreams of converting it so thought I’d look online to see if anyone else had done it…. Well look what I found! I look forward to seeing your project continue and will hopefully begin mine soon!

    • Troy Wiedeman March 26, 2015 at 7:33 AM #

      Excellent Dan. I’m glad you found my site and hope the info is helpful. I’m currently working on the insulation and expect to put up some new videos and and new post soon. Thanks for commenting and good luck with your future build. 🙂

  3. Terry August 30, 2015 at 8:14 PM #

    Hi Troy,

    I’ve been full-timing in an old 1991 Roadtrek Independent; I love the space and amenities, but the mileage and maintenance are atrocious, so I’ve decided to scale down and convert an Astro (or Safari) which I’m looking to buy in the next week or two. I’ve been doing some research trying to figure out measurements and such (I have a number of musical instruments I need to store plus some clothes that need hanging, etc) so that I can plan what to build. I noticed in one of your YouTube videos (where you measure the wheel wells, etc) that you’d said that the distance between the wheel wells was 4’3.5″ and the distance from wall to wall above the wheel wells was 5’9″, but then you measured the depth of the wheel well itself as only 8.5″? Also, the online specs say that there is supposed to be 96″ from the rear door to the back of the driver seat; was your seat perhaps reclined? Not meaning to criticize! I’m just trying to be accurate where I’m allocating space 🙂 Also, is there any chance you measured the area between the wheel well and that gas thing (don’t know what to call it) on the driver side? Or the dimensions of that thing itself? Thanks sooo much, man! Your videos are inspiring! 🙂 Take care

    • Troy Wiedeman August 31, 2015 at 7:11 AM #

      Hi Terry! Thanks for checking out my site and videos. Yeah, my measurements may have been off a bit. I haven’t gone back to verify. When I made that early video, I didn’t realize the curvature of the interior of the van. If I were to measure the width along the ceiling, it would be different than along the floor. I believe the 8.5″ wide wheel wells is correct and they are about 10″ high.

      Try this page for measurements – it’s a passenger van but has many interior measurements:

      If you need true measurements for planning, maybe go to a dealer with an Astro and ask for a test drive, then pull off the road and get all the measurements.

      Good luck with your future Astro van! Keep me posted.

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