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

Custom Van Upgrades

On after our first weekend away, we realized our custom van was in need of a few mechanical upgrades.

Installing Rear Shocks

“Rattle, Rattle, Rattle” went JoVanna somewhere in the back right side. Turns out She needed a new shock.

Only one shock needed to be replaced, but it made sense to replace both of the rear shock absorbers at the same time (it is highly recommended and safer than just changing one shock absorber at a time).

Bilstein B6 Shock Absorbers were the right replacement. Overall they were easy to install and made the ride much quieter and smoother.

The biggest hurdle for this project was getting the correct tools. Before hoisting/jacking your van up, be sure to have a Star Shaped Torx Socket- EP24(for the shock absorber bolts) and a Metric 21mm Socket(for the tire lugs/wheel studs, NOT 13/16) ready to go. It also helps to remove the tires first to gain easier access to the shock absorbers. (A jack can also help assist in lining up the shock absorber bolt holes if you are working on the ground and everything is safely blocked up.)

While JoVanna was shed of her tires and hubcaps, we decided to spray paint the silver hubcaps to a satin black to give her a sleeker, sportier look. We are personally not a huge fan of the chrome or silver styling.

Installing Cruise Control

The most intimidating but rewarding project we have completed so far was installing an aftermarket cruise control. Originally, we had ordered a factory cruise control, unfortunately the part was on backorder indefinitely and would have required some major work to the steering column.

We ended up ordering the Rosta 250 Cruise Control Kit on Amazon for $320. Again, having all the right tools before you begin this type of project is highly recommended. Before getting into this project, we watched the following YouTube.

The next step was to solder a few practice wires together. It is better to practice on extra wire than to start splicing right into the ignition wire. Practicing was extremely helpful, and we were able to cleanly splice the two wires together. After removing the three dash panels and soldering the single wire(the toughest part in a confined area), the rest of the installation was as simple as plugging in three connector blocks and finding a good spot for the motherboard.

The final step was drilling a 3/8” hole into the plastic facia around the steering column for the control toggle. We placed ours directly under the turn signal toggle and it works like a charm. Be sure that your placement and wiring is not effected by the steering column adjustment slider.

If you don’t have cruise control on your van, we definitely recommend this upgrade. It makes a huge difference on those long distance road trips.

Custom Van upgraded with Cruise Control
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New Installed Cruise Control

Other Minor Custom Van Upgrades

  • Removing the rear Ram Decal.
  • Removing the foam pad on the roof from the previous owner’s awning (Oh, the carpet tape).
  • Removing the awning attachment points.
  • Painting the grill Ram Decal to match the hubcaps (subtle styling).
  • Installing front tow point, in the grill hitch receiver (just in case for a sandy beach rescue).

These Mechanical and Cosmetic Upgrades to our Custom Van have made a big difference in look and ride!

Follow for continued improvements and kite/bike fun. Thanks for reading. ~KiteBikeVan

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