Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

March 5, 2011

Changes to my Van

Of course, the stock accouterments that come with my van are not completely to my liking.  Here's a list of things I think I need to add or modify to make it more comfortable for me and my pets.  This is as good a place as any to keep a list of things to do.

1.  Hooks and towel bars. 
Task completed 5/2011
  •  I am forever needing to hang stuff up and there was too little in the way of hooks.  I put up some 3M hooks on the wall behind the driver's seat to hang my hats on and on the wall at the rear of the van over my bed.  
  • I got an over-cabinet towel bar for a kitchen towel at Bed,Bath & Beyond and some over-cabinet hooks.  I put the hooks on the bath door & the closet door.  Some of the 3M hooks failed to stay adhered.  I also hung a towel bar on the bath door on the inside.
  • I put some small hooks right under the upper cabinets over the galley to hold the wire for a 12V fan (Coleman O2) to add air circulation.
  • I found some small double hooks that I screwed into the walls by prying off the cap of the screws that hold the wall panels to the van and using that screw to affix the hook.  Those should be more secure for the little things I need to hang like the pocket I got to hold the TV remotes and another one for my glasses at night.  I also put one at the side entrance door so I can hang a jacket when camped & leashes.
  • I screwed 4 cabinet C pulls to the rear upper cabinets to have tie down spots.  2 on the forward under cabinets and 2 on the rear vertical sides.
  • I added more hooks almost everywhere there was a screw into a wall.
2.  Raise my bed.
Task completed 5/2011
  • Since there is only me and some animals in the van, I don't really need 6 feet of dining and benches, nor do I need the whole 6'x6' area to be a bed.  I fit comfortably across the back.  To that end, I'm building boxes out of poplar wood and pocket screws to raise the bed by 7.5 inches.  That still leaves 30" to the bottom of the upper cabinets for moving about and sitting in bed. The boxes will be 4 feet long and I'll use one of the 3 foot supports for the center in the rear of the van.  That makes for a comfortable width even if I flop about at night.
  • I will probably add a bit of plywood to the top of the old bench to have additional storage space under the bed, at least in the rear where I can access it from the back doors.  I'll leave the back of the box open for accessing things under the bed.
  • I hope my cats will find the more open cavity to their liking and will use the litter box under a part of the bed.  The original design left too little head room for them to do their duty.  It would be a lot more convenient for me to have the litter underneath.
  • This way, while traveling, my bed can stay at the ready and I'll gain quite a bit of storage.
3.  Change the table.
Task completed 6/2011
  • My dinette table is 3 feet, made of particle board and is heavy and awkward to mount and dismount from its post which is in the middle of the narrow aisle between the benches.  
  • I found a nifty table mount that can swing this way and that.  The Springfield Lagun Table Pedestal will mount on the edge of the bench and take up a lot less space than the current configuration.  
  • I think I will make a nice table out of plywood and have two small folding leaves.  It should be a lot lighter than the particle board table and prettier too.  I saw something similar for boats.
  • I will have to shorten the original bed support by about 4 inches for the mount on one of the benches but even if I used the bed at that level, it wouldn't make any difference.
4.  Make the dinette seat comfortable
Task completed 4/2011
  • The curvature of the van wall makes for a rather uncomfortable back rest.
  • I found a 2'x2' wedge pillow at Bed,Bath & Beyond that solves the back rest problem very nicely.
  • There is a comfortable 2 foot seat between the raised bed and the kitchen counter.
  • I probably need to figure out something to keep any kitchen cooking spatters off the seat area.
5.  A place for a crate for warring cats
Task completed 6/2011
  • At present, my two cats are enemies so I need to have a safe place for the one that gets bullied or a time-out spot for the bully.  The crate I had on my last trip is really too big (3'x2').  I found one that will work very well in the 2 foot space under the TV on the other side of the dinette chair.
  • I need to put a nice plywood top on the original bench next to the raised bed box and remove the cushion.
  • This will also lower the crate as the other one was jammed under the TV.
  • I may eventually figure out how to have a bit of a desk area in that spot.
  • A desk needs to hold a printer in a pullout drawer
6.  A bed for the dog
Task completed 3/2011
  • My dog's bed is really too big to have in the door way of the van but that is the only spot wide enough for her to stretch out.
  • I found a nice anti-fatigue mat for $20 at KMart that should work for her.  It will have the bonus of being a rug too.
7.  Laptop Mount in Cockpit
  • I need to figure out some sort of mount for a laptop in the cockpit that will not interfere with the passenger seat being turned around to the back or get in the way of going to the cabin from the cockpit.
  • It might be good if the table could also function for this.  Or it might not be a good idea at all.
8.  Toilet paper holder in the bath
Task completed 5/2013
  • My van has no holder for toilet paper.
  • I put it in the shelf with a band across it and took it out when showering but it is only a matter of time before I forget to take it out and it gets drenched.
  • It needs to be in a water proof thing.
9.  Fix the fridge
Task completed 4/2012
  • Nuff said.  I need a working, reliable fridge.
10.  Bike Rack
  • I need to figure out the best solution for carrying a bike securely.
  • A rack that could also carry some cargo might be nice but that would add a couple feet to the length of my van.
  • I really want to be able to open the rear doors so a swing away or slide out of the way is on the option list.
  • I'd need to cover and lock the bike to prevent thievery.
  • I would also like a ladder but I haven't seen any that I like yet.
11.  Get or make a neck roll to make the driver's seat head rest more comfortable. Task completed 4/2011

12.  Eventually:
  • Lights
    • Replace the under-cabinet halogen lights with LED lights. Task completed 6/2011
    • Replace exterior light with LEDs Task completed 6/2011
    • Replace the overhead florescent lights with LEDs.
  • Replace the flooring (no carpet).
  • Refinish the cabinets.
  • Replace the particle board cabinet carcasses with decent and lighter plywood.
  • Screens for the doors?
  • Black out shades for all the windows.
  • Do something to make the front curtains fit the windows better.
  • Install a solar panel?
  • There's about 4" between the cockpit header and the metal skin of the van.  There is a kleenex box holder on the passenger side.  Seems like that is quite a bit of wasted space that could be put to good use for a number of small things one needs easy access to in the cockpit.  The header is made of cloth affixed to about an inch of felt.


  1. Hey, Great list of mods! I love modding Taj :) Partly because it makes the van more comfortable/useful and partly because it is fun to flex the creative side!

    Great Blog BTW! You have lots of fun stuff to follow!

    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"

  2. Hi Tesaje. Good list. Very similar to mine actually.
    I'm interested in your bed lift mod. I also travel with my cats and currently their litter is probably where your dog bed is currently located... against the opposite wall as you come in the side door. I suspect my back bed is set up different, but still would like to know what you are planning- least you give me a good idea!
    I love your blog.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. I'm working up a post on how I made the bed boxes to lift up my bed.

  4. Sounds like you’ve done some major changes and renos on your RV! Well, I think it is a must to do some renovations and upgrades on your vehicle, especially if there are parts that are wearing down due to long travel periods and harsh weather conditions. And it is also a good idea to add amenities that would make your journey comfortable. And you are right; a working fridge is a must on every RV.


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