Van Build 2 – Nothing a Spatula Can’t Handle

My father-in-law volunteered to help me dig into stage one on our Ford Transit Van Build, and something that I proooobably should have done more than 1 day prior to our 3+ week long excursion around the country. I also think he only had a partial idea about what he was getting himself into… but I’m grateful all the same.

Today we cleaned, primered, cleaned, sound proofed, cleaned… and insulated!

And this day wouldn’t even have happend if we hadn’t found Vanlife Outfitters who had the thinsulate that I was looking for and was able to ship it so that it arrived yesterday. We’re excited to actually stop by and meet them while we’re visiting Florida on our upcoming trip (pics to come!)

It was a solid 10 hour day that started with a hunt for those hard-to-find push pin pliers that help you disassemble car doors without destrying the plastic pins that hold the doors together.

Cleaning, Fixing, Primer…ing

Then it was time to clean the van, prepping for the primer. I only primered the nicks and scrates that RBG incurred over the past year of transporting everything from cactai to Cadillacs… fortunately it wasn’t too much.

Almost feels like when we rolled RBG off the lot!

Sound Proofing

Next up was sound proofing. Two boxes of Kilmat sound proofing showed up a few days ago and went pretty thoroughly on the wheel wells and found other spaces that would make sense where we could cut down on road noise from vibrating side panels, especially the wheel wells. I fully anticipate being able to have a conversation with Lesley without shouting at each other now.

Some of the spots were difficult to get the roller into…

Nothing that a spatula can’t handle


After stopping to briefly admire the transformation, we moved on to measuring, measuring, measuring, and cutting the thinsulate. We attached it to the walls, ceiling, doors, and roof (above the bucket seats) with a spray adhesive. Eventually we realized that if we made a measuring mistake we could just cut the piece down and stuff it into the myriad nooks and crannies.

First piece of thinsulate in place!

When we get back I’ll keep going with the insulation, as we did not disassemble any of the doors (6 of them!) I’d also like another shot at the space above the seats as well, as there is plenty more room in there to put any of the exta thinsulate we don’t use in the doors.

Starting to get warm in here… (I keep telling myself)

If you’re wondering why we didn’t plaster the van from top to bottom with insulation, it’s because of this blog post by Isabelle and Antoine at where they talk about heat transfer, thermal bridges, and other fancy science stuff that really made me think before we got started.

Primered, sound-proofed and thinsulated!

See You On Tour!

I’m really excite to see how quiet RGB is going to be even with only this portion of phose 1 finished. And, with insulation, rugs on the floor, a bootload of blankets, and three dogs, Lesley and I fully expect to be warmer that our last cross country drive.

We leave tomorrow for our annual winter tour. Wish us luck and see you there!


Comments (2)

Wow, what amazing progress you made…thanks dad! Lol. I think this is so cool and plan to follow your progress. My best friend has been looking for the perfect van to convert and I’m thinking this just might be my retirement plan too. Small enough to drive everywhere, but big enough to move around and stand up! Happy and safe travels!

Thanks Dina, more pics and stories to come! The van was warm enough even with just the one layer of insulation!

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