Cummins Canoe (A Stepvan Story)


Working on more framing and cabinet stuff.

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Rear drivers side behind the wheel well we insulated the floor a wee bit more and framed for a sweet cabinet we found at an estate sale.

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More neat notching and framing.

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Now we have this awesome cabinet and work table!

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We sealed and taped the insulation around the wheel wells because we won't be able to get to them very easily anymore.

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Now the passenger side rear of the wheel well.

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Picked these cabinets up for free. Just need to line them up nice, drill some holes, and bolt them together.

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Perfect! Well, not quite. There are some funny spaces going on down there. I'm sure we'll find stuff to store down there. Also installed the seat plywood to the futon.

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Seat folds down flat like this on hinges. Got a hole set of matching keyed lock cylinders. We'll change all the locks on everything inside and outside of van so we don't have to carry around a dozen different keys for stuff.

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Fixed up some peeling material on the work table. Never thought I'd have to use this funny old clamp. But I think this is what it's made for.

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And a bench vise! Mounted it so you can open the rear door and hold long pieces of whatever. The vise also makes a good hand hold when climbing up into the van.


Seat belts? Yes, seat belts! Oh yea, and power baby!

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Bolted some seats to the floor and needed to run them unobstructed up and over the seat. so we removed pieces of the top horizontal supports and made slots for the belts.

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Now you can store them under the seat.

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Or pull them up, close the lid, and now a person can use the belts. Just need some kind of flush latch to hold the seat lid down. We figured since Grumman is also an aircraft company, we should use airplane style seat belts!

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Bolted the water heater into place. Ran a electrical ground now to where it bolts to the floor. This will be the ground for the water pump and heating system. Also insulating the floor more where we can.

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The insulation will take up space we need so the water tank will clear the water heater. It's a tight fit but should be able to make all the connections.

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On the right side of the water tank we needed to do something with this useless awkward space. We're thinking it be a good place to have garbage/recycling and such.

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Some more framing to hold the water tank down in place. It's a snug fit. But we also want the tank to be removable without fully disassembling the whole cabinet.

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So the center support for the kitchen counter will be notched and screwed in place so it can come out later in case the water tank or water heater need to be replaced or whatever.

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Worked up more courage and made a thousand measurements. Made a hole for shore power port.

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We might not have the off-grid electrical components done yet, but at least we have some power in there now. It was getting old dealing with an extension cord through the door. And it's starting to get cold outside, so we'll be able to run a space heater inside while we work late nights.
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More nausea-inducing holes and cabinet doors!

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Measured a brazillion times here, trying to match the outside to where the hole is supposed to end up on the inside.

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Ah, it worked! Got the hole right where we thought the water fill would end up during our planning stage before insulation.

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Good thing we protected all the wiring with wire loom. Boy that was a close one!

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The big hose will fill the water tank. The brass fitting will be pressurized city hookup. And the small hose is a vent for the water tank. Test fit everything, then pulled it all back out.

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To pressure test of course. I can handle leaks that I can see. Leaks inside the wall are probably not good.

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And finally repacked with insulation and installed. To attach to body, we drilled and tapped the holes and installed all brass hardware.

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Semi-discreet water fill access.

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Also made some simple doors. Voluntold somebody to go into the closet and mark the insides of the door that intersects with the framing.

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Some glue and clamps and we have good bottom support for door. So when the door is closed, the weight transfers onto this horizontal wood piece and down onto the bottom wood framing on the floor. You know, because doors are heavy. ;)

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And just like that, we have cabinet doors! Just need latches on them to keep them closed. Some doors even have slots for umm, ventilation! Also, this vise is coming in handy on all sorts of projects.
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Found a use for those ventilation slots in the cabinet doors!

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But first, lets finish the kitchen counter area and get more wood out of the garage. Contrary to what many believe, having too much wood in your garage can be a negative thing.

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This tool is wonderful for these funny angle situations.

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As my favorite detective used to say, like a glove!

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Ok, now back to the futon. Need to get this board, which is the futon backrest/bed extension, to be supported in this space.

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Some careful measuring, sawing, and router work...

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And bam, fully functioning futon!

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Even the dag approves! Here you can see how the notches in the bed board go into the vent slots on the cabinet doors for support on the right. There are three notches. The middle one gets supported by a piece of 0.75" oak that is attached to the metal cabinet vertically. On the left, the board just sits on top of wood/metal cabinet lip for support. The 0.5" birch plywood holds the weight great. Although it does flex a bit when you sit aggressively on the edge of the wood. Might need to add some minor cross support on the edges.

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This is the view from the inside of the cabinet at the "vent slots". They go in very smooth like. One person can easily get it in and set.

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And when you need a couch, just put the board vertically.

The same notches fit into matching slots we cut into the seat part of the futon. It's set at a slight angle for comfort. Just need to fab up some latches to hold the board up when driving. The carrying handles make it a a breeze to pickup and move.
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Expedition Leader
Lots of motivation to get things out of the garage, like that stupid big fridge.

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It's big indeed. But it fits in the spot we framed out for the fridge.

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It will probably sit something like this.

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Got tired of the pocket door flying open while driving. So we got a really strong rubber covered magnet and rigged this up to keep the door closed.

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We took the wall plywood down in the cab and stuck a magnet inside the wall to keep the door open.

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Also attached this brush door sweep to help seal the door.

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Wired in some 12v switches.

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Got 120v and 12v outlets in too.

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Even have an outlet in the cab now. Never had a vehicle with an outlet next to the drivers seat, hoping this will be useful.
I’ve got a power bar with USB ports behind my seat. It’s very convenient. There are always devices needing charging, TVs to power, angle grinders, etc,


Found a way to keep the futon all together.

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Made these cute little wooden handles.

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Screwed some studs into the plywood wall.

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And handle gets bolted on and hold futon up while driving.

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Rotate handle to release futon.

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Got some rock climbing anchors to install.

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These will make awesome places to hang things from.

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Like hammocks!


Fridge install time! Well, mostly.

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Some more holes in the side walls.

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This one was easy. No insulation behind it.

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Top vent in and done. We still need to source and install a bottom wall vent.

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We cut some foam board to size.

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And have an insulated, but vented area behind fridge. The blue 0.5" foam on the left and right go flush up against the back of the fridge to create kind of a seal. The wire running across the back is to ground the upper cabinets.

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Had to cut and router and section of the wall to make clearance for the door to swing open all the way.

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The door just kisses the wood when opened. Also just hits the door stops built into the hinges on the fridge.

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To hold the fridge in place, we cut a 2"x2" piece of galvanized angle ironing attached it to the stock mounting holes for the bottom hinges. Because this fridge has the ability to change which way the door swings, it has threaded bolt holes on each side for the hinges to be on either side.


Tools? Got to have tools! And tools need to be stored somewhere.

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I got this old toolbox out of the garbage many years ago. It's been in storage since then. It's big enough to store all kinds of stuff, but too big to carry around when filled. So it will make a great toolbox in the rig if we bolt it down. Was never sure if I were to ever need it, but it was a good toolbox so I couldn't let it go to waste.

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Took all the drawers out and drilled some holes in the bottom. Also took off the side handle so it sits flush against the wall on the right side.

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Threw some bolts in and down through the work table.

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Voluntold someone to crawl down behind the cabinets to tighten the nuts up.

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Super solid toolbox now! Love the old patina on it. No reason to clean it up and paint it.

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Made some more fancy wood cuts.

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Got some more panelling up. In the panelling we cut in one of the HVAC ducts.

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Also got the garbage/recycling bin all done! A bit overkill, I know. But it was a funny space, and this slide out garbage bin thing popped up really cheap, used on the interwebs, and it's just cool! It's even soft close too.

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Got the water tank all plumbed in too. Hope this 90 degree fitting doesn't cause us problems when we go to fill the tank with water. We wanted a smooth radius of tubing down into the tank, but it was never going to make the bend without kinking shut. Might be a slow fill procedure. We'll see.
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The countertops were looking kind of dark and boring. Your body casts a shadow over the counter from the recessed lights. Hmmm, if only there was a way to remedy this...

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More light. Specifically, under cabinet lights! First we'll need to make light rails.

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Drilled and tapped them onto the aluminum shelf.

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Decided to just ground the whole aluminum shelve. Drilled and tapped this brass screw through the aluminum support and the wood behind it.

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Behind the wall, tighten a ground wire up using some nuts.

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And we have under cabinet lights! On dimmers too!

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It really makes doing stuff on the counter tops so much better of an activity.

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And it's really coming together! Lighting is everything. It's what makes you a professional!

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While we were behind wall for kitchen, we cut these channels in the support wood so we can snake wires up the wall later. In this wall, which will be paneled shut, will hold lots of controls and switches, mostly HVAC stuff.
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A bunch of goodies came in the mail. Other random projects done as well.

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All the solar panels are here! As well as charge controllers, inverter, fuse panels, switches, chargers, circuit breakers, etc. Thank you Cyber Monday sales!

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With all these electrical components, it's adding up to more than we expected and will be unable to mount everything under one of the kitchen seats as originally planned.

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But this funny space under the fridge is perfect for the batteries to go! Cut some wood out from the 1" tall floor plates and laid down some 0.5" foam board down so the batteries have a 0.5" lip all around them to hold them in place.

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They fit super snug! These lithium batteries will be wired in parallel, fused, and then battery cables run forward to the right into the electrical cabinet under the seat. The batteries came out of an electric delivery truck and they have lots of life left in them. Got them at a killer deal! We'll build a shelf above the batteries and all that space will be a very efficient use of space.

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Came up with a plan for fridge door keeper closer devices.

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Cut some aluminum down, drilled some holes.

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And tapped a hole for this spinning keeper thingy. Also this fridge runs very quiet.

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Speaking of spinning things, I just realized that the handle on the parking brake lever, which I use as a fidget spinner when sitting in traffic, is actually a manual brake tensioner! So cool! No more crawling under the vehicle to adjust the tension on the parking brake cables!

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And also got material for the next project. All super cheap cull lumber that we're going to make into custom crown molding of some sort!
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