Lifestyle

His Insane Van Reno Idea is Actually Genius (Photos)

Everybody dreams of a mobile palace that’s beautiful on the inside, functional on the outside, and rugged enough to go just about anywhere on a budget. Right? I mean, I can’t be alone on this, can I? Anyway, not content to just dream it- reddit’s Zach Both recently decided to make his fantasy travel van a reality. We imagined how Zach would tell his story.

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Some of the early photos are going to look pretty rough, so just to show that this is a serious project, here are a couple teaser “after” photos.

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Alright, I don’t want to give everything away right from the start, so here’s one last glimpse of the final product.

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Pretty grim right? I picked up this rough and not quite ready 2003 Chevy Express with 200K miles and a serious need for TLC.

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 Here’s a bit of preliminary photoshop work just to get an idea of what was possible.

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Some initial cleanup. There was some seriously ancient dirt hiding in hard to reach places.

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The fun starts here with some buff work with an electric buffer. That rust has got to go.

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A fresh coat of paint will provide hope and seal out future oxidation.

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What a difference only one coat of paint makes!

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Putting in some insulation. This baby is gonna be cozy!

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Looking kind of space aged here. It’s cool, but we can do better.

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More spaciness, just to commemorate the van’s NASA phase.

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No, it’s not a toothpaste accident. It’s insulation foam to seal in the goodness.

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Can’t forget to insulate the floor.

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A little extra hard foam insulation for the pop out windows for good measure.

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More hard foam on the ceiling held up by good old Tyvek tape.

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Tired of insulation yet? So was I.

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Honestly, this is not just a mess of scrap cuttings. It’s the flooring template.

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Like birch? Me too. So I screwed some to the metal floor.

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Nothing like a bit of putty to block in those stubborn gaps.

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What could be more satisfying than cutting plywood with a skillsaw?

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A little stain on the plywood before securing it into place makes it look luxurious.

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I had to bring in a pro to do the roof cutting. Thanks, dad!

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Looking down through his work like a ray of sunshine. Hey, pops!

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I went in for some plaster lath to bring out the details. Check out this beautiful haul from a local church.

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I told you it was a beautiful haul. This lath is ready for installation.

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A template helped to ensure these had the right spacing. These are fixed in place with a pin nailer.

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This electric fan fit in beautifully. The wires are tucked discretely under the plywood. Now were starting to see some progress.

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Here I installed some 1.5 x 1.5 struts to shore up the plywood walls.

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Another template cut and secured to the braces in all the right places.

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A few specially made bits and pieces to fill in the gaps. Not a small job.

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More fiddly bits to fill in the gaps. This was not my favorite part of the project thats for sure!

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I had to soak some pieces to make them fit. I hate waiting.

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What’s to be done with these funny little angles?

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Bondo, baby! That’s what!

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It’s coming together! Just imagine a strip of beach beyond that back door.

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More templates. This time for my pop out windows. Lovely sparky sheet metal.

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Well, it’s not an armored van – but I feel I could be so inspired in the future.

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One final template for the floor… wait for it…

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There it is! Nice shiny vinyl flooring. It took a few YouTube tutorials to learn this.

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I wasn’t thrilled I had to cover up my new floor, but these wheel wells won’t cover themselves.

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Don’t let your dreams be schemes.

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Getting everything squared up to install the bed was a challenge with the slight curve to the walls.

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With a few hinges in the right places, this cabinet will double as a futon.

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A few locks were installed to batten down the hatches.

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Some early sketches of the kitchen area. Nothing like a good concept sketch to get the creative energy flowing.

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It may not look like much now, but my vision for the kitchen was rock solid in my mind.

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Getting there. Man, I can’t wait to use this!

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This used Ikea futon didn’t quite fit in as well as I’d hoped.

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I’m afraid we’re going to have to trim you down a bit, my Swedish friend. Thanks for making the terrific cover for this old bed, Mom.

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Like I said, all business on the outside. This rack will carry some of my favorite toys.

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Had to call in the big guns again to install the solar panels to the roof track.

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Nice and sturdy, plugged up with sealant, and ready for some paint.

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It’s hard to have romance without a dimmer dial. This one goes to 11.

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Everything is wired up to the solar collector. I’m not doing all this to buy batteries for the rest of my life!

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A few strips of tape before painting the hatches.

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There’s nothing quite as satisfying as painting in some details on a clear sunny day. This is some special Glidden paint that smooths out brush strokes while drying. No fuss about it.

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It really is amazing how much better a cabinet looks after staining. No wonder the stain industry does $19 million in business every year.

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Yeah, I know chalkboard paint is kitschy. But what better for drawing up road trip plans on the fly?

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Man, I can’t get enough of this lath. Just look at the detail.

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Who wants to play count the moving parts? I love these little pieces of hardware.

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I decided to lay in a little low energy LED strip behind the edge lath. I hope it’s not too ‘Tron’ for my mostly wood interior. Nah!

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Whipped out a few more templates for my magnetic blackout curtains. Magnets. Who doesn’t love ‘em?

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No hassle magnetic blackout curtains, because little creeping pinpoints of light are no good when you’re resting up from a long day of adventure.

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Plastic door covering? Not sexy. Wooden door coverings? Sexier.

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 I’m not doing all this work just to let my amazing adventure van go to the bugs. Here’s my tidy little cleaning station – just to the left of an item that will likely cause a great deal of mess.

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Last minute realization, I’m going to need a curtain. Installation was easy peasy.

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“It’s a stool!” “It’s a trashcan!” “It’s a stool, I tell you!” “No! It’s a trashcan!”

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“Hold on you two. It’s a stool AND a trashcan!”

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Anyone fancy a custom removable table? Well, I do. So I made one.

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And here she is all finished in white. Now, that’s handy.

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Well, it has to go someplace when I’m on the road. If you know a Navy veteran, ask them what a missile hazard is.

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Finally, all finished. Here’re me and Pops showing off. Not going to lie, feeling pretty proud!

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Just look at that sunshine pouring in. What coast am I on? You don’t know. Could be either.

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I bet you didn’t know I was packing this kind of heat. That’s a serious piece of culinary hardware in there, my friend.

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That’s a mountain. That’s the ocean. That’s my bed. Any questions?

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And that’s my workstation. Don’t bother with the snail mail. It’ll never catch me.

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Sunset on the outside, freedom on the inside.

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