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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been a member here and posting for a little while, probably past due for an introduction.

Ordered the above van last January and it went thru the factory during 'rona, so it didn't land at my dealer until September. Been busy with work/holidays/family stuff so I haven't had much time to work on it until recently.

Me: I'm a locksmith. The van is my mobile office/storefront/workshop. I spend most of my week in it. My last/current van is a 2007 Sprinter which I bought new, but it's clocking up the miles and the last 2 years I've spent upwards of $6k/year on repairs alone (not including maintenance items like tires/brakes/oil changes. Decided it was time to replace it in 2019, tried to order another Sprinter but after taking my deposit there was zero movement in 6 months so I canceled the order, got my deposit back, and ordered the Transit. Fast forward to almost 2 years later. . .

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Transit is a tech/comfort heavy option list. BLIS, nav/backup camera, power heated leather seats, Lane keep assist, passive safety features, etc. .. and a must have: rear heat/air. This is the first work van I've had with that option and I'm looking forward to enjoying it. As pictured above, one of the first things I did was swap out the grille for the honeycomb cab/chassis grille, and added a quick connect plug for jumper cables at the front (LOTS of cars I work on have dead batteries, and jump boxes suck).

Both of my previous work vans have been insulated, which helps substantially, but I spend a lot of time idling working in the back and have had to rely on what comes out of the cab HVAC. It'll be nice to have a dedicated system now. That said, I'm not crazy about the factory locations of the heat/air units on the Transit, but nobody at Ford asked my opinion. I would have greatly preferred for the heat to be where the air is, and the air to be on the roof. Considered attempting to relocate it but that's a **** of a lot of work.

Anyway, on with the build. Pulled the factory cargo liner and stuffed fiberglass insulation into the cavities, then reinstalled it. Haven't done the doors yet but I will, or may do them with spray foam. Did the same for the roof. . . glued up fiberglass insulation then made a headliner out of 3/16" masonite paneling, used plastic rivets to hold it to the roof bows. The panel nearest the cab is installed with screws/rivnuts so I can take it down if I need to access wiring up there (only thing really important is the cellular/gps antenna and I doubt I'll ever need to get at that, but it'll make servicing anything under the cab headliner easier too). The only wiring in the rest of the van is for the factory cargo lamps, and they'll be kind of supplimental once the 120v lighting works.

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Floor is 7/16 Zip sheathing glued down with screws in a few strategic locations. Lifeproof vinyl flooring on top of that, which was a PITA to work with. Wound up stapling it down around the perimeter, which was the only way I could keep it tight as I laid it out. Probably OK if you're doing a square room in a house, but in a van, it sucks. Also one of the boxes contained planks of slightly different width, which made them unusable except when sorted into a single row.

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120V power is supplied by a large by huge chaiwan inverter behind the driver's seat. Has a shore power input as well, which I mounted to the side of the van just behind the driver's door. This will allow me to use the van with the engine off but still power the lights and machinery in the back. I don't do that often, but it's nice to have the option. All 120V wiring is run in either EMT or flex.

Onto the cabinets. . . drawer units are Vidmar shallow depth cabinets with active handles, meaning the drawers don't slide out unless you lift up on the handle. Always wondered why people paid so much for Vidmar until I bought a set to use in my cargo trailer/workshop. Short answer: they're worth it. There is nothing else on the market that is built as well or is as versatile as these things are. These will be "heirloom" cabinets that will likely last me to retirement and move to the next van with me.

Wooden cabinets surrounding them are built by me using 1/2 sandply and stapled together with narrow crown staples and wood glue. My first service van was a retired ambulance which had cabinets assembled using this method (although theirs were covered in formica, mine are just painted) and during tear-out I was surprised how difficult they were to break, so I have adopted that construction technique for all my mobile cabinets, and have never had one come apart. Current van is 14 years old, the cabinets in it are still intact and just as strong as the day I made them. There is no skeleton framing, all support and rigidity is accomplished by essentially making right angles with the material to reinforce long edges and planes. The end result is a lightweight, inexpensive cabinet that is very tough, and assembles fast (provided you have compressed air and a crown stapler). I'd put it up against 80/20 construction any day of the week.

Countertops are also my own. 3/4" maple plywood, built up to 1.5" thickness around the perimeter and banded with clear pine and bullnosed with a router. I'll throw on 3 coats of floor poly and let it cure for a week, then start bolting key machines down.

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Everything is attached to the insides of the van using rivnuts. It'd be nice to be able to use factory attachment points, but that's rarely practical, so rivnuts or j-clips are the best option. The sheet metal used on modern cars is so paper thin that it won't hold self-tapping screws with any sort of longevity or pull out resistance. Certain parts of the van use hardened steel which laughs at self-drilling screws anyway, so the only way to get a fastener in is to use cobalt bits to poke the hole, and install a rivnut or J-clip.

I hate painting, so after assembling the cabinets I took them to a guy that advertised cabinet painting on Facebook marketplace who quoted $500 to fill the staple holes, primer and paint them. Sounded reasonable, left him with direction that it didn't need to be perfect, but durable and at least look good from the front. The work he returned was sub-par. Missed lots of staple holes, light spots on the face frames, some ends that are exposed were not painted at all, and if he did any sanding, it's not evident. Pretty sure he blew on a single coat only. End result: gonna sand and repaint them myself. Ugh.

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I still have a day or so worth of wiring to interface a few things with the van. Light bar will be wired up to one of the accessory switches via relay also tied to the high beam circuit, so the light bar only comes on with the high beams. I'll put a set of rear speakers overhead directly behind the cab seats, tied to the factory radio, and I'm going to try and sneak some rear audio controls out of the steering wheel so I can at least adjust volume and change tracks from the back of the van. I'd also like to put a power door lock control in the back near my seated work bench so I can lock myself in when desired. I know I could just throw in another accessory keypad but what's the fun in that?

Anyway, more as the build progresses.
 

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If you decide to make a change on the rear A/C setup. you can get the duct used on the passenger van that would redirect the air from the floor area to the roof area and by getting the upper splitter, you can direct the airflow in 2 directions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've got a plan to duct it behind the workbench on the left side of the van, and put normal residential 3x10 registers in that wall/"backsplash".

I haven't figured out how to make a take-off from the rear AC yet (it's angled, and shoved back into the exterior wall enough that it'll be challenging to make from sheet metal) so I might take part of your suggestion and order the vertical duct/take off, and cut/connect it to my square ducting at a strategic location.

I've seen the part numbers for that posted on here somewhere (probably by you). . . happen to have them handy?
 

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2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
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Welcome! Looking great!
 
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