a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
Custom Van Design
Custom Van Design

Custom Van Design

When we found JoVanna, our custom van, we weren’t quite sure she was the best fit but a few of her qualities convinced us that she was the one. JoVanna had already been converted and used as a camper van. This means that some of the larger conversion projects were already done.

JoVanna’s Classy Qualities:

  • JoVanna had a rooftop air conditioner and fan (AC is pure gold for kite and bike destinations).
  • JoVanna had side and rear windows (great for visibility & extra lighting).
  • JoVanna already had some insulation installed (ceiling, walls, and floors).
  • JoVanna had electricity (LED lights, GFI outlets, and an Inverter).
  • JoVanna’s exterior Roof Ladder was an Extra Bonus!!!

Although, we loved JoVanna, there were a few things about her that had to be changed in order to meet our open, minimalist style.

The first step was to make some space for our dog (Honey) and to add some more living space inside the van. Being able to stand upright inside a high-roof van makes a big difference compared to standard height vans.

However, JoVanna intially felt crowded with a lot of extra cabinetry and closed off space. Cabinets with knobs often catch on clothing and gear in tight quarters. There was also lots of rattling while driving. (Our current van overhead storage)

We started by removing all the extra seats, cupboards, and other extras.

The next change had to do with sleeping comfortably inside. The previous owner had a second bunk installed. Being a small family of two, we didn’t need the second bed and didn’t want to hit our heads every time we got up, therefore the upper bunk had to come out.

Bike Storage in our Custom Van Design

Although Jade’s bike could now be stored in the van, there wasn’t a great spot for it between the front seats and the bed. We decided to move the “wheel-well boxes/bed supports” forward in order to store the bike between the bed and the back doors.

As we began taking apart the original boxes, the project quickly snowballed and turned into a complete gutting of the van. The boxes had been glued (F*%#ING BONDO!!!) to the floor and walls.

After removing the boxes, we needed to sand (HOURS of sanding!!!) and repaint the walls, lay a new flooring down, and completely rebuild the wheel-well boxes. This turned out to be a great change!

We were able to close off the holes left in the floor by extra passenger seating attachments. Previously there was no support under the floor where the passenger seats had attached, resulting in sunken/caved-in spots in the original vinyl floor that was covered by a rug.

We decided that waterproof vinyl plank flooring would best match our new design.

Better Bed for our Custom Van Design

During the rebuild for the wheel-well boxes we raised the height up to two feet and made them more narrow (10 inches wide instead of 16 inches). This had three added benefits.

First, by raising the bed to two feet, we are able to store more kites, boards, and gear under the bed.

Second, by making the wheel-well boxes thinner, we gained an extra 12″ of storage space.

Finally, when finishing the wheel-well boxes, we added an extra shelf for storing kite bars, bicycle pumps, and foil masts (we did not want to waste any space by raising the bed).

The previous owner had installed latches on the backside of the bed so that it could be flipped into a couch. We loved this concept, since we wanted a place to sit inside without losing space to move around. It also makes it easier to reach for gear underneath.

We kept this feature, but also installed latches on the front of the bed to make a couch facing outwards as well. This will also be important for a future project.

Board Storage in our Custom Van Design

The last major interior change came after our first trip. Although we had created a lot of space under the bed for storing kites and boards, Andrew’s paddle foil board was a bit too long. This made it hard to use our couch since we had to climb over the boards.

After returning home, we promptly installed board holders on the ceiling with bungees and u-hooks. These board holders inspired lots of additional bungees and hooks.

Preparing for our first trip in our Custom Van
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We are looking forward to many new adVANtures!

Follow for more fun remodeling and kite/bike exploration. ~KiteBikeVan

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One comment

  1. Pingback: How do you know when your campervan conversion is complete? – Jo"Van"Na

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