How to Test Your Marriage in a Van

Tear down part 2. We have watched thousands of van build videos and read a ton on how to build out a van -we did not go into this project lightly. However, what nobody warns you about, especially with used vehicles, is that each van has it’s differences. Sprinter vans are built basically as a standard shell but then they are adapted to for different purposes. Some are left as a shell and they are the cargo vans that most people use to build out their van. Ours however was turned into a passenger bus before it was sold and because of this the entire bottom of the cargo area was reinforced with sheet metal. We, of course, did not realize any of this when we were tearing it apart. Now the metal sheet had 1/2 ” plywood very firmly adhered to it and we kept trying to lift it all out like we had seen on every single van build video that you just lift the plywood out and use it as your template for flooring. Aaron got out his trusty crowbar thinking that it was just a bit stuck only to realize that there was no way the metal was coming up. Now at this point he had the bright idea to carefully pry up part of the corner.

A van has very limited square footage and in his mind he did not want to waste any. At least that is the rationale he gave me. I am quite sure his secret motivation was to make me hate the van so I would change my mind about building out a van.

Now at this point I was like we just cut a new piece of wood to cover up the piece that you chipped away and glue it back down and we can continue on our happy way. No one any wiser for that terrible mistake that we made. Now when you look at the above picture you think well how bad could it really be its only a teeny tiny little van a couple hours and you will be done. I thought that too so the next day when Aaron was at work I had the brilliant idea to show him that this was a tiny job and could easily be finished. For the first two boards I was correct it actually wasn’t too bad but i think that board was missing glue or something because after that it was miserable very slow going. At one point it was Aaron, myself and Greyson all chipping away at that floor and we were still getting nowhere at least in my opinion.

That is the face of someone seriously questioning their marriage as if you will remember it was my husband who was convinced we needed those extra millimeters to stand up. Also remember we were doing this job during the crazy hot weather in the beginning of July so we would work early in the morning until it got too hot and later in the evening when it cooled down. If I were to do this project again I would leave the wood in. Aaron however stands by his decision and claims it was completely worth it.

Even with three of us working this was a long arduous task that I would not recommend. I did hear however after the fact that there are tools that would make this job much easier but easy is not always the path we choose. In fact Aaron is very brilliant and will analyze a problem for months looking for the best solution, but rarely are his solutions the easiest solution. Generally that is where I come in I am way too impatient for analyzing a problem for that long and I look for the easiest path forward. Right around this time a bird flew into the van. Aaron has the battery disconnected from the van as we are not starting it very often. He was busy walking me through all the steps of reconnecting the battery (he likes to explain things as he does them) so that he could roll down the window. Finally I was like why don’t you just open the door. I tell this story not to brag but to illustrate how we balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses out. I do not have the amazing focus that he does which allows us to make huge strides in this giant project. I also do not have the patience to wade through a hundred different articles on the best type of van to buy or spend hundreds of hours researching the common problems that Sprinter Vans from different era’s have. Seriously if you want to know what will potentially break in the different vans ask Aaron because he knows.

Check out the bird inside the van.

At one point near the end of the scraping of the floor. There was a very small chunk left to look at it you would be like that should not take very long. Aaron looked at me and very graciously offered to finish the rest of the floor. I very reluctantly took him up on that offer and by reluctantly I mean quickly dropped the tools and escaped. Even Greyson who can be just as tenacious as his father powered out with scraping the floor and abandoned us.

I am not going to lie at this point in the project I was pretty discouraged. The van looked 1000 times worse than when we brought it home. We had already put a lot of time and effort into the project and it really felt like we had nothing to show for it. If you are planning to do a van build or just starting your project I want to warn you that it is full of extreme highs and extreme lows, extreme frustration, disappointment and probably every single emotion in between. It is an extreme kind of project but I’m not sure I regret any part of it. It will be so amazing when it is finished but I am also trying to savour the journey -after all not very many people get to tell the story of their recreational vehicle conversion when they go camping or travelling in it. Each time all 4 of us squish inside the van as a break from the weather we get to savour the memory of all the hard work and sacrifices that brought us to that point. Plus we will only have ourselves to blame when there are parts of the build that do not work as planned or drive us crazy. I’m not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.

“Before you look to blame another, look within yourself, for at some point you have not listened to your own instincts” ~ Leon Brown

I suspect this will be us on so many levels after this project is built, but at least we will not run out of things to talk about and will definitely not be bored. I imagine throughout this project there is going to be lots of challenges and hard problems but we listened to our instincts and jumped-in rather than continuing to talk about we should do for several more years to come. I do thank Covid for giving us the final push to jump into this. In many ways, although this project has tested our marriage a few times, it also has brought us closer together. We are working together for a common goal something that can often get lost in our busy lives!

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