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856 Posts
Discussion Starter #201 (Edited)
Besides figuring out the lights I did not do too much work on the van. The main issue I have had is the thing just works! No issues with anything and it has been fully functional. I did ditch the trailer idea though and bought this.

It is made by Mototote and works great - easy to load and no more fume huffing.

I didn't do any huge trips last summer but camped a bunch all over New England.

The plan for this winter is headliner and side panels. Once that is done the only thing I have left is make it look a little more beefy. I am not a fan of the scrawny tire look at all.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #202 (Edited)
Well I am back in the game now for sure. Just a warning to those not familiar with my build - if you are not a fan of excruciating detail don't tune in. It's my specialty!

Anyhow, I had a little time today and started on my ceiling templates. Below is a really crappy not well lit pic of my first piece.


That one was tough as there are a couple angles up there and I needed to cut around the hinge clasp.

It got easier as I went back as there were more straight sections.


I know it doesn't look like much but seeing the edges all nice was a huge boost for my motivation.

The plan is to run all the way across front and back as well as a couple times in the middle. I will hot glue and duct tape it together and then assemble a team of surgeons to remove it without destroying it. Right now the pieces are screwed in place.

I plan to make a one piece ceiling out of corrugated plastic like Victory Vision did then wrap it with headliner fabric. I am thinking maybe some closed cell foam and then another type of fabric maybe - not sure yet.

Also not sure what to do about all the holes - not below the windows but all the others. I would love some fastener ideas - I am not sure how I want to attach the ceiling either but I would like to avoid having a bunch of exposed screws.

201 Posts
I've thoroughly enjoyed following your build and also appreciate your details! Keep it up, your posts are being read and enjoyed even if we aren't always commenting, haha.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #204 (Edited)
Thanks Garret - glad you are enjoying the show. Slow progress is the theme for this winter! I was surprised how much light was lost by adding the cardboard. Not sure how well it shows in the pics but the center of the van is noticeably dimmer.

Still plenty of light for getting in/out though and I am not yet done with my led lights - I have a strip to run around the beltline too.

This area where I meet the OEM ceiling has proven to be a little tricky but I think I have it beat. I think I can glue/screw 3 pieces about 8" or so - one in the middle and one on either side. This will serve as a place to fasten the leading edge of the headliner. I was initially worried that my rear headliner would end up lower than the OEM one but it looks like it will work out ok. I may have to force it up a bit on the outer edges.


Below is the piece that sits above the 60/40 doors - it gives a really good view of how these vans are shaped inside. The top in the pic is the front of the van. You can see the cut out for the hinge clasp - below that the bump out is for where there are no led lights and I wanted to cover the wires that connect them . I have been going around adding that bump between runs of lights to make a cleaner look.

I have no updated pics but the template is about done - I have taped up all the seams and added cardboard stiffeners to help it hold shape when removed. I also cut out the holes for the lights I took down.

I still have not figured out how I will fasten it - I am going into wood but really would like to avoid screws and washers. I was thinking some sort of male female push fastener but don't know that they exist. I would have to recess the female end into the wood.

If I do get stuck with washers and screws I will do my best to hide them by color matching or something.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #205 (Edited)
School vacation week last week so not much chance to get anything done. I did find some time to stare at my van however. These vans have a couple water issues - roof plugs, lower cladding leaks and the infamous airbox issue. I have never had any problems but once found a little water evidence on my air filter. To be honest this van is a bit of a garage queen - it shows 25k as it sits and every winter it is inside.

Either way I wanted to address the front cowl and don't want to build a turd. You can see the windshield base does not form a very tight seal - this allows water all along the firewall to drip where it may.

It can also run down the corner here without too much trouble.


Ford addressed this with two little trays on each side this one on the left.

And this one on the right.

Both of these are designed to drain into the fender well. My plan is to build a deeper tray for the passenger side with a proper drain hose on it. On the drivers side I would build a much wider tray to run about a third of the way across, also with a drain hose. Both drain hoses will run out the drivers side away from the camping side.

The HVAC intake blocks access to build a tray for about 8" but aside from that I could get full coverage. In the upper tray I would also bore out the OEM drains bigger and also add a third one near the center.

Anyhow, that's my take on the OCD turd.


Sometimes I revisit parts of the build. Above is about a 3/16 gap on the rear threshold that has always bothered me. It was super nice out today so I opened the garage and had at it.

It doesn't show up too well in the pics but I got it a lot better - basically an even 16th all way across. Thanks to a winter of watching Youtube wooden boat builders I was able to get it done by clamping it tight and re drilling some of the holes.

I had never plugged any of the holes because I knew I would be back at some point but since I got it as good as I can I plugged them all up.


Here you see my swiss cheese approach - what the ****, it's my van! I can put as many holes as I want! The three holes to the rear of the van are m6 riv nuts - the rest are wood screws into the sub floor.

This shows after some stain - some took the color better than others but I am happy overall - this is done for good. I also ran a bead of caulk along the leading edge but again it's not too easy to capture in pics.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #206 (Edited)
Next up on the v2.0 list was my side mounted lights. I have a couple issues with them. One, they never really stayed put. I made these wooden brackets and glued magnets to them - door closing eventually jarred them loose. Hot glue lasts about a week on average.

The other issue I had with them is their current mounting position makes them as obnoxious as when they were in the van. They need to be angled down - the current plan is to stuff them in the top corner so they angle down at about 65 deg. Should still throw plenty of light and not be too in your face. I have still not figured out how I will mount them. Once I build the bracket I think VHB tape is the way to go - super glue, magnets and hot glue have all failed. My theory is the tape will absorb some of the vibrations.

After removing them the leads were getting short and I did not want a ton of splices so I fitted some new longer leads. This will let me make all the connections inside under the headliner.

The wiring has become a priority for me as my headiner template is done - all of this upper wiring needs to be finished before I can finish the ceiling. Below you see the filler piece I made for the right hand side. It's not perfect but good enough to get a good fit on the finished piece.

Left side also in need of some tweaking but good to go. Materials courtesy of my sons Lego box lol.

Dropping the template was as scary as anything I had done on the van. So much time had been spent making it if it fell apart I was going to be less than happy. Of course I was solo but with a little luck I got it down without incident. Now that it was down I had no idea how to move it. It was a bit floppy and needed to go diagonal to come out. I made a make shift stretcher which didn't work out too well - in the end a 10' 2x4 screwed to one side worked just fine. I also spent a bunch of time reinforcing all the joints before I took it down, once down I did the same thing to the back side.

I had cleared out a basement room to build my ceiling but didn't want my template damaged in the interim. I mounted another 2x4 to the wall french cleat style to hang it.

It's gonna be there a while as I have some wiring and finish work to do before the ceiling can go up. Below is the material I settled on - 1/2" foam r3.3. I bought 4mm Coroplast ala Victory Vision but IMO it was way too flimsy. This stuff has decent strength but is brittle. My plan to add strength is to run an additional layer in between the roof ribs on the back side. This will also allow me to fasten 3 sheets together for a one piece look. Anything not securely fastened to my strapping will be a 1" laminate. This will also put my ceiling insulation at R6+ in addition to the Thinsulate. It will also have an air gap up there. Pretty psyched.

This is all gonna take some time as I have to rewire and mount my side outside lights first. I plan to add one and a switch in the back - it will sit between the two doors support thingies. I also have to wire two small strips of led in the ceiling.

Once that is done I plan to wrap the entire rear entry in stretch carpet - I may use the same for the headliner so it all matches. Once the rear is finished I can build and install the ceiling. Yay.

Gray ceiling, limited gray fillers to hide all the holes in the sides between the windows, etc - in the rear entry I want to transition to black half way down so it matches OEM. Long term I am thinking the lower panels will be foam board too finished in black.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #207 (Edited)
One of the more rewarding aspects of this build has been coming up with solutions. Usually a good bit of staring at stuff does the job - in this case the idea came to me at work. Here's how I made my light brackets.
I started by through bolting this aluminum through the fins with a nut in between the last fins. It wasn't installed in this pic.

I used aluminum foil to get my angle right.

Once bent up I needed to fasten to the angle bracket. I initially tried to tap through both and bolt all the way through. 6/32 machine screws and metric taps + fail. No pics of that - sorry! Instead I bored both pieces and hogged out the fins to allow a nut to sit in there. Win!

The plan when I built it was to use riv nuts to bolt through the van, hence the lower section. Instead I plan to go with magnets - these are string enough they hold the bracket and the van without issue. I want to do a little testing, if they hold up I will cut off the lower section so no bracket will show when the lights are mounted.

Test shot. The light is still obnoxious but less so. It needs a diffuser. The plan right now is to test some small blockers placed directly over the LED lights - I am thinking black circle stickers or those little dots that keep your laptop from sliding around. Should work well enough to make the light less harsh.
Next is build two more brackets - one more for this side and one for the rear. I will paint them before install.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #208 (Edited)
Progress continues. A little more detail on how I got these mounted.

Below you can see the magnet that holds them in place. I feel a bit like I am going down the same road but what failed with the last setup was adhering the magnet to the wooden mount. Here the magnet is juts held fast on it's own.

V2.3 is official! I tried cutting off the lower leg on one bracket for a cleaner look but it ended up being a bit unstable. The lower legs also leave me with the option of adding riv nuts and screws or a second magnet. I plan to paint them black.

I made the mount for the rear too. This one was simpler as it did not need the aluminum angle mounted to it. I just through bolted the bracket into the fins of the light.


Lessons from my first van build lol. One thing I would do differently is allow more access to wiring. I hard wired everything in which makes service... difficult. I had lost power to the side lights - thankfully upon investigation it was simply a terminal had come loose from the switch. Of course I discovered this after removing all the trim.

I have labeled all the wires under here but there is not enough slack to allow for easy access. Lesson learned. I think I need to also add connectors to all my lights - not sure if I should use bullet connectors or something else. I never plan to remove them again but you never know. I will also leave enough extra wire to get easier access to stuff going forward.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #209 (Edited)
I ordered some connectors for all my lights to aid in future removal if needed. I also bought some braided nylon sheathing to dress up the wires for the three outside aiming lights. While waiting for that to arrive I have been keeping busy with these. Found them on Ebay after a bit of searching.

I know I want one on the right side - not sure where the other will go. There is a pre threaded hole on the top, I think it is M8, gotta still verify. The issue I have is about where I want the lower hole is a hole that just barely misses. I think I could use it but I would need larger pre bulbed inserts.

In the spirit of working with what I have I cut a piece of steel and then added a layer of cutting board to get it to sit square against the van. The plan is to riv nut the plate to the van then drill out the center to install a bolt for the handle. I still think I may need a larger fastener - the only ones I have are 1/4-20.

Here is a more detailed shot, if I go this route I will make both pieces a bit wider so they contact the entire surface of the handle.

I am really happy with the way it looks - fits nice and matches all the other handles. The height is also very close to the one by the side doors.

I also need something to help close the door from the inside - this would work but seems like overkill. Right now it is just sitting there with magnets - I need to think more about it. Right now I am considering a more simple nylon strap.

I know many have built new devices to open the door - I plan to spend some time tonight staring at that and see what I can come up with.


856 Posts
Discussion Starter #210 (Edited)
I got the leads and sheathing in. Not much of this will show but it looks a lot more finished and adds some protection.

Here's a shot setting up to paint the brackets. I tried first with some silver paint I had in house but it didn't work out.

Flat black for the win.

Fishing the wires through was less than fun but it is done.

I am putting these leads on all my lights so they can easily come out if needed. If my prototype foam board roof squeaks for example.

I've got some soldering to do next but once all the lights are wired I plan to wire the other LED switch in and basically be done with wiring. Two more 12v sockets to go but those will run wires through the lower section which should be pretty easy. Once the roof stuff is done I want to build the front ceiling piece out of foam and see how it works out.

2016 Transit, 148" WB, High Roof, Extended body
27 Posts
Besides figuring out the lights I did not do too much work on the van. The main issue I have had is the thing just works! No issues with anything and it has been fully functional. I did ditch the trailer idea though and bought this.
View attachment 132450

It is made by Mototote and works great - easy to load and no more fume huffing.
That's an awesome carrier...and an even awesomer (that's a word right 😉) bike. My First Street bike was a used 1972 Honda CB500/Four...bought from my brother in 1979. Loved that bike.

Great Build Thread. Love the floors and the LED lights hooked to the door opener with a three way switch....I may need to steal that idea.

856 Posts
Discussion Starter #212 (Edited)
What have I been doing to pass the boredom? Wiring, wiring, and more wiring! Side lights working as advertised.

Below is a touch switch that will power a strip of leds run all over the place. The plan is to provide some ambient light when driving or parked so that it doesn't feel like you are driving about in a black hole.

Like all well laid plans this went to pot lol. I could not for the life of me get the switch to do anything more than this. This glow is the off position apparently. I spent half a day blaming myself and trying everything I could think of but no joy. The manufacturer has been great - I have been in touch and even in this crazy time I will soon have a new switch.

This is just a random pic of what your van looks like when you spend 2 days wiring in there. I have since cleaned it out and started over making a new mess.

Here are the wire stubs for the rear light.

I added a switch to this panel - the upper one powers my cocktail light, lower is the outside aimed one.

Unlike my fancy touch switch all of this went as planned - wired up and good to go.

Glory shot of both illuminated.

I got a bunch of split loom and put it everywhere. Really cleans up the look and protects the wires. Where I ran down the pillars I wrestled it on there as best I could - I wish I had installed it in the first place. Either way I am going to stuff insulation in there to prevent any moving/rattling of the wires.

I have spent about two hours a day doing something. The wiring is not done but the list of stuff left is shrinking! Below you see stubs on all my touch reading lights. Those are now ready to snap in once I make my headliner panels.

When I get a working touch switch in I will hook it up and run wire for all the led strip. I have 15' and plan to put it all over. After that I have two 12v outlets to install.
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